Shortstop Jose Iglesias collected his first extra-base hit in the month of May, slamming a solo homer — his career-high fourth of the year — in the bottom of the ninth for Triple-A Pawtucket. The homer snapped an 0-for-13 stretch. Iglesias is now hitting .160/.232/.220 in the month of May, with a .204/.263/.306 line on the season.
However, more significant was something that Iglesias did defensively — and outside the confines of the game. As reported by Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal, Iglesias took grounders at third base on Monday prior to Pawtucket’s game, the first time in his career that he’s taken grounders at the position, with game exposure to the position expected to come soon — perhaps as soon as Tuesday in Pawtucket. MacPherson also reported that Iglesias has been taking grounders at second base, and that he will see game activity there once PawSox manager Gary DiSarcina is comfortable with the idea that Iglesias is comfortable with the double play pivot from that angle.
DiSarcina suggested that the move is being made with an eye towards increasing Iglesias’ versatility so that he can serve as a source of depth at multiple positions. For instance, when Will Middlebrooks suffered his recent rib injury, it was Brock Holt — a player capable of playing third, short and second — who was on call to come up from the majors, with Iglesias not in position to offer utility depth. In exposing him to multiple positions, the Sox are laying the groundwork for the 23-year-old to have more roster value.
“He’s a shortstop,” DiSarcina told the Journal. “He’s going to be a major-league shortstop. But the goal is just to give him a tool — not just for himself, but for the organization.”
Moreover, as MacPherson notes, increasing Iglesias’ versatility could allow the Sox to sidestep a potential bottleneck if the organization decides it wants to promote Xander Bogaerts to Triple-A. The ability to have both Iglesias and Bogaerts (who played some third in the WBC) play multiple positions would make it easier to get both players into the lineup.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 8-4 LOSS VS. INDIANAPOLIS (PIRATES)
– Jackie Bradley Jr. is heating up, at a time when outfielder Shane Victorino is once again contending with injuries. Bradley went 2-for-4 with a homer (his first of the season) and double. In three games back in the PawSox lineup, he’s now 4-for-11 with one of every kind of hit along with two walks and an HBP, good for a .364/.500/.909 line.
However, the Sox are still taking a conservative approach to his return from injury, as he’s served as a DH twice, played center field once and sat out of a game. According to Brendan McGair of the Pawtucket Times, Bradley will likely remain on a restricted schedule for at least the next couple of weeks.
So if Victorino is sidelined for any length of time in a fashion that requires a call-up, it seems unlikely that Bradley would represent the best option in the very near-term. Still, he remains the only healthy Red Sox minor league outfielder who is on the 40-man roster, so now that he is healthy enough to play again, he could once again resemble an option of first resort in the near future.
– The aforementioned Brock Holt is starting to heat up. He went 3-for-4 on Monday, with his third double in four games (prior to the stretch, he had yet to collect an extra-base hit in his first 30 games of the year). Holt, 24, now has a five-game hitting streak during which he’s hitting .471/.474/.647.
– Left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith recorded a season-high four strikeouts in 1 2/3 innings. The 30-year-old now has a 0.71 ERA while holding opponents to a .133 average.
– Knuckleballer Steven Wright has struggled while proving vulnerable in recent weeks, a trend that continued on Monday, when he allowed seven runs (six earned) on seven hits and two homers. In his last three starts, he’s given up four homers (three more than he’d given up in his first eight Triple-A starts combined between 2012 and 2013) with a 6.89 ERA. He did strike out five, giving him 28 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings this year (8.0 per nine).
DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 7-3 LOSS VS. NEW HAMPSHIRE (BLUE JAYS)
– Left fielder Tony Thomas went 2-for-5 with a triple and his fifth homer of the year, continuing a month of May in which the 26-year-old has been hammering the ball. In 18 games this month, he has 12 extra-base hits (six doubles, three triple, three homers) with a .324/.342/.608 line.
– First baseman Travis Shaw went 0-for-1 but took three walks, the third time this season that he’s walked three or more times in a game. In 40 games this year, he’s hitting just .248 but, thanks to 31 walks (most in the Eastern League), Shaw (23) is getting on base at a .385 rate.
– Heiker Meneses, 21, went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles. He now has 127 at-bats this year, precisely the number he had in Double-A last year (before his demotion to High-A Salem). He’s hitting .283/.311/.411 with 13 extra-base hits this year, a stark contrast to his struggles (.197/.282/.244 with three extra-base hits) in Double-A a year ago.
HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: DAY OFF
SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 5-2 LOSS AT HICKORY (RANGERS)
– Left-hander Brian Johnson had a season-high eight strikeouts (five swinging) in five innings of work, finishing his outing by punching out the last five batters he faced. He did yield three runs, all on a three-run homer in the second inning, but otherwise was as impressive as he’s been at any point in his first full pro season. In 29 innings, Johnson has a 4.34 ERA with 28 strikeouts and 14 walks.
– Outfielder Aneury Tavarez, 21, continued his best stretch of games thus far this year. He went 3-for-4 with a steal, and he’s now 11-for-27 with three doubles and a homer (along with nine strikeouts and one walk) during a six-game hitting streak, with a .407/.429/.630.
– Mookie Betts had a single in four at-bats to extend his hitting streak to 15 games.