By Maureen Mullen and Danny Picard
BOSTON -- It was quite a day for Jose Iglesias, the phenom shortstop from Cuba whom the Red Sox signed as an international free agent less than two years ago.
With Marco Scutaro (oblique strain) placed on the disabled list, the Sox recalled Iglesias from Pawtucket. And he made his major-league debut on his first day, playing the ninth inning as a defensive replacement for Jed Lowrie in Boston's 9-5 win over the Twins.
“I though the timing was good,” said manager Terry Francona. “Let him get out there, let him get some nerves out of the way and let him be part of what we’re doing. It worked out well.”
Scutaro tried to ease those nerves by playing a prank on Iglesias just before he was put into the game. He hid the youngster’s glove behind the camera man.
Iglesias could do nothing but laugh afterwards, and said he enjoyed the moment.
“For me, it’s a huge thrill and an honor to be playing here,” said Iglesias. “Especially at such a young age.”
Iglesias’ arrival in the big leagues is ahead of schedule. Yamaico Navarro, who appeared in 20 games for the Red Sox last season, would have gotten the call but was placed on the DL last week with an oblique strain.
“We talked to [Iglesias] a little bit this morning,” Francona said before the game. “I think we all think he’s got a really bright future here. I don’t think right now is his time to be starting at shortstop . . . [Let] him learn the atmosphere, what’s expected of him. Hopefully it’ll be real good for his development.”
While his primary position is shortstop, Francona said Iglesias could play other positions as well.
“I think so. I hope so,” he said. “I know he played third in the [Arizona] Fall League. His hands are good enough to be anywhere and his instincts. [Infield coach Tim Bogar] will get him out there and move him around a little bit. The one thing you don’t want to do is put him in a situation where he’s uncomfortable. I think he’d probably be okay anywhere.”
Iglesias was surprised when he got the call Saturday night from Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler that he was going to Boston.
“It wasn’t something that I was expecting,” he said. “I just got a call after the game from Arnie . . . and they gave me the news. So it came as a shock.”
Although his English is very good, Iglesias spoke through Eddie Romero, the team’s assistant director of Latin American operations, with the media.
“Very glad, very appreciative of being given the opportunity to help out this team here in Boston,” he said.
“It’s obviously a very special day for me but even more so being Mother’s Day. I get to share it with a lot of Moms out there. But it’s a tremendous thrill for me to be here and we’ll see what happens.”
Iglesias tried to call his mother in Cuba before the game to tell her the news, but was unable to get through. He expected to see his wife, his infant son and his father, all of whom are in Pawtucket, after the game.
A defensive whiz, he was hitting .253 (22-for-87) with four RBI, 17 strikeouts, and two walks, for Pawtucket when he was called up.
Mike Cameron greeted Iglesias, saying “Hey, caballito” [little horse]. Iglesias is familiar with his teammates from being in the organization for almost two seasons and being in spring training for two years.
“It’s like a family here,” he said. “I’ve been around and I know most of these guys pretty well through spring training. So there’s no level of discomfort here. I feel very comfortable with all the guys in the clubhouse.”
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http://twitter.com/maureenamullen
Danny Picard is on twitter at http://twitter.com/DannyPicard.