Can Iglesias land the starting shortstop position?
There was no way that the Red Sox were going to have an uneventful spring training.
Not many expected the starting shortstop position to dominate the headlines though.
Well when it comes to the Boston Red Sox, since the end of last August it's worth expecting the unexpected.
You might have expected them to win the American League East last year—nope!
You definitely expected the Sox to make the playoffs right?—not so fast
Terry Francona, who won two World Series titles...he's a Sox manager for life?—wrong again.
Well Theo Epstein, Theo Epstein! He'll be back right? Yes, he's back, it's just that he's running the Cubs.
So with that in mind something like Mike Aviles not securing the starting shortstop position by late March might not be that big a deal.
It is, though.
That's because the guy chasing Aviles for the position isn't another journeyman utility type of player. Nope it's a rookie—a 22-year-old highly touted rookie named Jose Iglesias.
Can Iglesias snag the position from Aviles? He's got a real shot. For one he's got a spectacular glove. Not a "decent" glove or an "above average" glove but a real bonafide Gold-Glove caliber mitt.
He's also got the new manager on his side.
“He’s pretty close,’’ Valentine said. “We’ve seen a lot. Now it’s a determination of whether or not it’s his time.
“I think he’s played pretty well and showed some really good progress. We have to decide whether he’s had enough undergraduate credentials in order to take the next step forward.’’ —Bobby Valentine to The Boston Globe 3/22/12
The longer Iglesias sticks around the Red Sox, the better a chance of him claiming the starting position. The reason for that is that it's not tough to simply insert Aviles into a utility position. It's a position he's ideally suited for and has experience with.
Iglesias is young enough that if he doesn't win the starting job the Red Sox will probably opt to just send him to the minors to continue his development. They'd consider that preferable to sitting on the Sox bench waiting to enter games in the late innings or providing a spot start.
“He’s shown improvement in some areas this spring, and also has shown that there are still areas for him to work on,’’ Cherington said via e-mail. “We still believe Jose will be a very good major league shortstop. We don’t know yet when that will be."—Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington in The Boston Globe 3/22/12
Cherington is correct that we don't know when Iglesias will be ready. We're going to start to find out very soon though.