Jose Iglesias shines in return to Fenway

September 02, 2013 - 4:12 pm
Jose Iglesias returned to Fenway Park Monday for the first time since being traded away to Detroit. Iglesias hit ninth for the Tigers and finished the day 1-for-3, smacking a double in the top of the third. Along with the base hit, Iglesias provided his trademark sensational defense all afternoon, stymieing the Red Sox by putting together three different double plays on a bittersweet occasion. "I love those guys over there, it's nothing personal," said Iglesias. "It's a business at the end of the day, but it was fun to come here today and get the W. The fans here are great, it's a really fun place to be. Red Sox always been my first organization, but I'm getting used to it." Iglesias turned in the finest defensive play of the game. Shane Victorino delivered a single to lead off the sixth, and Dustin Pedroia hit a ground ball to the right of second base. Iglesias turned what should have been a fielder's choice into an unassisted double play, running over from short, tagging out Victorino, then spinning and unloading a bullet to first base. "I switched it up," said Iglesias, "I covered the base. As soon as he read the ball, I just try to get the ball and I was able to make a good double play for the team. I knew I got time on first, so I try to tag him." "You can't practice plays like that," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland, "so that's just athleticism, flexibility, agility, whatever you want to call it. You just can't practice a play like that. Someone tells me they practiced a play like that, I'll tell them they're lying." Iglesias' slick fielding buttressed the work of starting pitcher Doug Fister, a groundball pitcher who likes to keep the ball low and is especially dependent on his shortstop. "That kid's got great hands and moves all over the diamond and gets things done," said Fister. "It's such a blessing to have him. The things he brings to this team are astounding." Leyland noted that the Tigers are very confident about making a playoff push with Iglesias entrenched at short. "He's made about three already that I've never seen before. He's going to make some of those acrobatic plays. We're very fortunate to have him." "He's unbelievable with his glove," said Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson. "He definitely keeps some base hits that would have been up the middle or in the hole, he's good at getting glove on it. For him to make some of the plays he makes, it's unbelievable. It makes you just wait for a second to applaud him." Leyland admitted that, while he is not overly familiar with the 23-year-old from Havana, Cuba, he is happy to have him on the club. "When you hear that many people talking about a guy, as a shortstop, you know it's got to be true," explained Leyland. "Offensively, he's very aggressive. He's a tough out for a young guy. He swings a little bit too much, probably like a big guy, at times, but he's very smart. He knows how to shoot the ball to hit the hole, how to bunt for a base hit. I think he's going to be a very good offensive player. I don't want to take his aggressiveness away from him. He probably swings a little bit too much like a big guy in certain situations, but he's very bright and very instinctive, so he'll figure it out. He's got baseball sense. "Every once and a while, you get mixed reviews on some players. On him, there are no mixed reviews. Everyone that I've ever talked to say this guy's a fantastic shortstop. When you get split reviews, somebody's wrong. When you get a dominant positive, that means a guy's good. Nobody has ever said this guy would not be, or could not be, or isn't a fantastic shortstop." Though the Red Sox clearly saw him as being expendable enough to part with in the Jake Peavy trade, Iglesias is glad with the situation he has found. "I'm doing what I'm supposed to do," said Iglesias. "Playing short, that's what I'm doing and I feel comfortable."