As I entered the lavish clubhouse at jetBlue Park this morning, I was greeted by a ton of familiar faces and friendly “hellos”. Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis were among the first people I saw. Before much more time passed, I bumped into both Lars Anderson and Jose Iglesias. Iglesias, the 22 year old Cuban shortstop, greeted me with a hug and his traditional nickname for me, “Stretch”. (Still not sure why he calls me that, but I’m cool with it.) Lars, the big Californian, hugged me and immediately said, “I have to go into the managers’ office. I’m being sent down.” Naturally, I felt badly, but Lars quickly assured me that it was OK.
Anderson knew exactly what he was talking about. Both he and Iglesias were optioned to Pawtucket, making the PawSox a prohibitive, early season favorite in the North Division. A few minutes later, manager Bobby Valentine explained the moves to the assembled media. “Jose had a really emotional meeting with Ben (Cherington), Ben (Crockett) and I. At this time we decided it was best for him and the organization that he gets some real regular at bats and works on the consistency of his swing and play.” Valentine continued. “He’s working on things. He just needs to develop confidence in his program.” Valentine characterized the meeting with Iglesias as “emotional” “He was very professional in his conversation, but we all felt there was emotion in the room.” With Iglesias returning to Pawtucket, it looks like Mike Aviles will be Bostons’ opening day shortstop. “It wasn’t a tough decision. Eventually, things play themselves out.” Valentine admitted that Aviles’ play made the choice that much easier. “Mike hasn’t done anything wrong. He’s pretty much done everything right.”
Valentine was quick to add that Iglesias is close to being major league-ready. “He’s not that far off. We all agreed that it isn’t a question of ‘if’ he’s going to make it. It’s ‘when’. Jose could be our shortstop if we needed him to, but it’s tougher to sharpen your teeth at the Big League level.”
Bobby V didn’t hesitate when asked about what type of camp Lars Anderson had. “Great camp. he proved our scouting reports correct. He drove the ball to center, left center. He also added to his resume by playing some leftfield. He’s a good guy to have on the team. He could make a lot of Major League teams.”
When he was asked if he sent Iglesias to Pawtucket with any special message, he shared his thoughts. “I gave Jose the same message I gave Alex Ochoa a hundred years ago. ‘Just because God delays, it doesn’t mean God denies.’ He won’t be denied. That’s what I believe and that’s what Ben believes.” Valentine recalled a day when he suffered the same fate as Jose. “When I got sent down and I stunk, I thought it was the wrong decision. He doesn’t stink.”
The PawSox roster continues to take shape. As of now, there are still 41 players left in Big League camp, 16 over the limit. Right handed pitchers Justin Germano and Doug Mathis were also reassigned to minor league camp with outfielder Josh Kroeger.