Middlebrooks puts on his PawSox: Iglesias stays put

Will Middlebrooks (left) has been demoted to Pawtucket, while Jose Iglesias is staying put (Getty Images)

Jan-Christian Sorensen
Contributing Writer

Another day, another twist in the ongoing Red Sox saga at the hot corner.

Tuesday afternoon, the Sox optioned struggling incumbent third baseman Will Middlebrooks to Triple-A Pawtucket, adding more security to Jose Iglesias’s tenure in Boston.

The Sox called up Brandon Snyder to replace Middlebrooks on the 25-man roster. Snyder, who spent time in the Orioles and Rangers organizations before inking a minor-league deal with the Sox in March, is hitting .266 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI for the PawSox. In order to accommodate Snyder on the 40-man roster, the Sox moved backstop David Ross — who has been battling concussion symptoms — from the seven-day disabled list to the 60-day DL.

Since Iglesias was hauled back up to the big-league team May 24 when Middlebrooks went on the DL with back spasms, the 23-year-old Cuban native has posted a line of .420/.480/.568 and reached base safely at least once in every game in which he’s played. Heading into Sunday, his .431 average was the highest among all MLB batters with at least 75 plate appearances and in the four-game set against Detroit over the weekend, Iglesias went 6 for 14 with two triples.

Contrast that with Middlebrooks, who — since his return from the DL and a rehab stint in Pawtucket — has been a virtual ghost, going 4 for 29 (.138) with six strikeouts.

The demotion was a no-brainer, considering The Iglesias Experiment — the Sox heir apparent at shortstop had never played a game at third base in his career before being handed the reins — has made Sox manager John Farrell look like a strategist of Douglas MacArthur proportions. Iglesias’s instant assimilation also made Pedro Ciriaco expendable and temporarily solved the Stephen Drew-Iglesias logjam at short.

Only three days ago, Farrell said that moving Middlebrooks back down to the minors was only a possibility: “If there comes a point where we feel like (Middlebrooks is) not getting enough reps, then maybe that comes into the discussion a little bit more. But that’s not imminent.”

Something changed. Farrell saw the Iglesias era for what it is: a shot of confidence for a rookie who batted only .118 during a brief, 25-game call-up in 2012 and who has since turned into a boon for Boston both on the field and at the plate.

It was clear at the start of the season during Iglesias’s short, six-game appearance with the big-league club that he was chomping at the bit to be an Everyday Player: subbing in at shortstop while Drew recovered from a concussion, Iglesias went 9 for 20 (.450) before being shuffled back down to Pawtucket.

“I don’t know that we fully expect him to hit .430 by Sept. 15. But, you know what? He’s playing with a lot of confidence and doing a heck of a job for us,” said Farrell. “Right now he makes us a better team when he’s on the field, and he’s on the field.”

Iglesias, to his credit, is taking the whole experience in stride: “People have asked me if I’m surprised. I can’t say that,” he said. “I’ve been waiting for this all my life. The surprise part is I’m playing third base.”

No way, Jose: it’s safe to say nobody’s more surprised than Middlebrooks.

Twitter: @jan_doh