Red Sox shortstop Iglesias looks to build off opener
NEW YORK - Jose Iglesias stood in the shadow of Jackie Bradley Jr. all spring long, and frankly he isn't going to escape it anytime soon.
But the Red Sox shortstop played one pretty sweet game Monday in his first appearance on a major league Opening Day roster.
Three hits, one RBI - the first for the team this year - and one run scored, and his usual stellar defense, including making the key relay throw on an inning-ending double play in the eighth.
That all meant he could take a bow after the 8-2 victory over the Yankees.
"Definitely. I've been feeling good since the first day in spring training, so I can't complain," Iglesias said. "I worked hard this offseason, I put myself in the best position as possible, and now here, the first day in New York, Opening Day for me, it was fun, especially to go 3-for-5 and get that win, too. Everything's going well, everything is going perfect."
Place Iglesias' three hits end to end and they don't reach the outfield wall at Yankee Stadium, not even the short right field corner.
His first hit, the RBI single in the second inning, squirted in the gap between short and third, landing in shallow left field. The bases were loaded at the time, and Yankees ace CC Sabathia was on the mound. Iglesias' single gave the Sox their first lead of the season, and he later scored in that four-run inning that set the tone for everything that followed.
His next time up, he put down a perfect bunt for a hit, something he's been encouraged to do a lot this spring. He popped up in the fifth with the bases loaded, but in the seventh he beat out a slow roller to third base for his third hit.
"It doesn't matter" how far the hits go, Iglesias said. "I saw the chance to bunt and I did. I put the ball in play and I beat the throw. That other at-bat when I came in with the bases loaded, I was able to beat the ball, so that's all you can do - hit the ball and be in the best position possible."
Iglesias' defensive ability seldom has been questioned, and he had a strong game at shortstop. Five assists and one putout, plus he handled the big play in the eighth. Junichi Tazawa took a sharply hit ground ball by Ichiro Suzuki and did a 180-degree turn, pegging a strike to Iglesias, who whipped it to first in time to catch the speedster.
"That was good, (Tazawa) threw me a perfect throw to second base," Iglesias said. "We've been working on that all spring. I think the pitchers have been (doing a) really good job about that. I was able to turn it."
Once Stephen Drew returns from his concussion in the next week or two, Iglesias is expected to head back to the minors.
But if he keeps playing like Monday, Iglesias just might start stealing some of the spotlight being shined on Bradley.