Red Sox Decide To Challenge Iglesias In Triple-A

BOSTON—Throughout spring training, the Red Sox wrestled with the decision of where to start Jose Iglesias. The shortstop's lack of professional experience—he was limited to fewer than 300 plate appearances for Double-A Portland in 2010, his first minor league season—had some advocating that Iglesias return to Portland. If and when he enjoyed offensive success, he could be promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket.

Boston took a more aggressive approach with the 21-year-old they signed out of Cuba in 2009. With an eye toward having him ready for a potential big league job in 2012, the team assigned Iglesias to Pawtucket to open the year.

"We're looking to challenge him," Red Sox farm director Mike Hazen said. "We felt like his defense was certainly more than capable for (Triple-A), and offensively, he's going to have to figure out that level at some point in the near future . . . He'll figure things out a little bit. We'll protect him in the lineup, hit him a little bit down in the order until he gets his feet wet and then we'll go from there."

Iglesias hit .285/.315/.357 in 221 at-bats for Portland last year, numbers that were depressed by two months on the DL in the middle of the year with a broken finger.

This year, the Red Sox were impressed when the 5-foot-11, 175-pound Iglesias showed up stronger in spring training after an offseason working out with Marco Scutaro and Alex Rodriguez. The team hopes that will translate to an improved ability to drive the ball.

One reason for pushing Iglesias to Pawtucket is to force him to make adjustments and become a more disciplined hitter against advanced breaking pitches. The team believes that he has the foundation to be a solid hitter, in part because he makes solid contact even when he chases pitches out of the strike zone.

While the team doesn't want to take away Iglesias' aggressiveness swinging at strikes, they do want him to have more grinding at-bats. They believe he can respond to that challenge in Triple-A because he embraces being pushed.

"My goal is to play in the big leagues with this team," Iglesias said. "I'm focused on what I have to do, and what exactly I want. Everything is coming."

Sox Yarns

• The Sox released outfielder Jason Place, a first-round pick in the 2006 draft.

• Lefthander Andrew Miller opened the year in Pawtucket's rotation, a role in which the pitcher and the Sox felt that he would benefit from the chance to work on repeating his delivery.