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Sports

June 30, 2013

Boston's hot shot at shortstop

Defensive whiz Iglesias showing eye-popping improvement at plate

When given the opportunity to prove he could be the everyday shortstop, Jose Iglesias failed miserably during the final month last season.

Iglesias batted just .118 with a .200 on-base percentage and .191 slugging percentage. And although he proved to be a major league Gold Glove-caliber defender, the Red Sox deemed his offense unready. GM Ben Cherington signed veteran shortstop Stephen Drew to a one-year deal.

The Drew signing could have been the beginning of the end for Iglesias here in Boston. That’s because the Red Sox’ top prospect, smooth-swinging Xander Bogaerts, plays shortstop and projects to be major league ready by Opening Day 2014 at the latest.

Undoubtedly, Iglesias needed to produce if and when any major league stint arose this summer. Or he’d risk being leapfrogged by Bogaerts, who isn’t as talented defensively as Iglesias but is a powerful and patient hitter.

Iglesias never was afraid his opportunity, at least in Boston, was dwindling away.

It certainly isn’t anymore. He’s taken full advantage of both major league stints he’s received this season and became Boston’s starting third baseman recently. In 37 games with Boston entering yesterday, Iglesias was batting .419 (52 for 124) with a .467 on-base percentage and .548 slugging percentage.

“I try to prove nothing to nobody,” Iglesias said. “That’s just me. I don’t know if I’m right or not. I just enjoy the game and (try) be the player I’ve always been.”

For a player who had failed more than succeeded as a hitter in the minors and majors before this year, Iglesias has a high confidence level — bordering on cockiness — that probably is helping him right now.

“I never doubted myself as a hitter (and) as a player and I never will,” Iglesias said.

The 23-year-old first got his chance this year when Drew began the season on the disabled list. Iglesias batted .450 (9 for 20). Called up again from Pawtucket when third baseman Will Middlebrooks went on the DL, Iglesias continued to hit and then won the everyday job at third after Middlebrooks returned.

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