But it is in the WEEI headline writers’ department, apparently.
The Red Sox are at the stage of the season where wins and losses border on meaningless. The most important consideration for the team this month is the opportunity to evaluate players to help define roles heading into 2013.
Among the most important players being evaluated while receiving an opportunity to acclimate to the competition in the big leagues is shortstop Jose Iglesias. The 22-year-old has endured considerable struggles since his late-August promotion to the big leagues, having gone 2-for-28 (.071) with a .295 OPS. Still, this is a time when such struggles have no immediate consequence. He can go 0-for-50, with the Red Sox losing every remaining game of the season, and the only impact would be a) the fact that Iglesias would have the opportunity to become more accustomed to what big league pitching looks like; b) it would become clearer that he is not ready for the big leagues; and c) his confidence might take a hit in the short-term… That made a seventh-inning decision by manager Bobby Valentine in Toronto unexpected.
Iglesias was at the plate with Pedro Ciriaco on first and two out in a 0-0 tie in the top of the seventh inning. He took the first two pitches (ball, called strike), fouled off a 1-1 offering and then laid off a sharp 1-2 curveball from reliever Brandon Lyon on which Ciriaco stole second to put himself into scoring position.
With the count then even at 2-2, Valentine elected to pull Iglesias in favor of pinch-hitter Daniel Nava…
Asked if he was concerned that Iglesias’ confidence might suffer after being lifted in the middle of his plate appearance, Valentine suggested he was not concerned.
“I was pinch hit for with the bases loaded and a 3-2 count. It didn’t ruin my confidence. I think he’ll get over it. I talked to him. He said, ‘Whatever’s right for the team,’ ” Valentine told reporters. “I did let him hit. He went up there. I think there’s a good balance there. [Jon Lester has] just pitched 100 pitches trying to win a baseball game. There will be plenty of time. I don’t think that’s a make or break situation. He’s gotten one hit so far. He’ll get the opportunity to get some hits. It’s not kindergarten here.
“If you don’t think it was a good decision, so what,” Valentine added. “I think it was the right thing to do trying to win a game for a guy who’s busting his butt out there.”
For his part, Iglesias acknowledged that it was novel for him to be replaced in the middle of the at-bat, but he did not object to what Valentine elected to do.
“It’s pretty unusual, but he made a decision. He tried to do what’s best for the team, and I respect that decision,” Iglesias told reporters. “I was ready to hit. I had some good ABs today, did the best I could do. He made a decision, and I respect him.”