Iglesias still making presence felt as coach

October 16th, 2021

HOUSTON -- The Red Sox may have lost a player from their late-season run this October, but they have gained a coach instead.

The impact had on Boston after signing as a free agent on Sept. 6 cannot be overstated.

At the time, the Red Sox were in the middle of a COVID-19 outbreak that left them devoid of options in the middle infield. For a couple of days, Iglesias held down shortstop -- his natural position -- for Xander Bogaerts.

And when Bogaerts returned on Sept. 10 in Chicago, Iglesias moved to second base and essentially learned how to play the position on the fly in the middle of a pennant race. In 23 games, all Iglesias did with the bat was slash .356/.406/.508.

But then came the playoffs, which meant Iglesias was no longer eligible to participate since he was not a member of the organization as of Sept. 1. So give the 31-year-old credit for finding a way to be a key participant, even if not between the lines.

When put down a perfect sacrifice bunt to set up Boston’s walk-off rally that clinched the American League Division Series against the Rays, he immediately credited Iglesias. You see, Iglesias had pulled Arroyo aside a few days earlier and showed him some flaws in his bunting technique.

Arroyo happened to tell that story because it became public knowledge. There are likely many other examples of what Iglesias is doing to help his teammates at the most important time of the year.

“Without him, I don't know if we're here,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “But communication, understanding the game, watching the game, staying locked in -- the guy, he has been great.”

Though Iglesias will be on a Major League roster next season -- maybe even Boston’s -- you can go ahead and call him "Coach Iglesias" for however much longer the Red Sox stay alive in the postseason.

“I hate to say this, because I know he is going to play for more years, but I know the coach he is for our team right now, and that's his job,” said Cora. “He is here. He knows he isn’t going to play, so somehow, some way he has to make an impact. He feels that way, and that's what he is doing. He has been amazing, and I love the fact that he is always talking baseball. He enjoys it, and I know he wants to win a World Series ring, and he is doing his part.”

Not that everything Iglesias is doing right now is nuts and bolts. There is some fun also.

He has taken over pushing the laundry cart that Red Sox players go into after every home run.

“He is doing a good job with the carts, I'll tell you that,” said Cora. “He's gotten better. The first time he pushed it, he almost hurt Kyle [Schwarber], I want to say.”

Devers feeling better
The right forearm injury that third baseman played through in the AL Wild Card Game against the Yankees and in the ALDS became an ongoing story. Every time Devers swung with force on a high fastball, his lower arm would fall off the bat and he would grimace.

Devers still managed to make contributions, including a huge three-run homer in Game 4 against Tampa Bay. The good news is that Devers says he is feeling better.

“I'm feeling a lot better now,” Devers said. “Obviously, with the training staff, with everything that they were able to do to help me feel better out on the field, it feels a lot better than it did in the last round. So I'm fortunate enough to be able to feel better than I did last time.”

Otto’s resurgence
Veteran reliever was Boston’s primary setup man for much of the season, but he lost those high-leverage opportunities when he faltered down the stretch.

Though Cora is now using him in the early to middle innings, Ottavino appears rejuvenated and ready to get some big outs. He certainly got four big ones when he was first out of the ‘pen to relieve Chris Sale in Game 1.

“It was really good, and he threw the ball well in Game 1 against Tampa Bay, too,” said Cora. “He’s been there, done that, and there's certain matchups that give us trouble with him but there's others that we really like. And when he's throwing strikes and he's aggressive and he's ahead in the count, he's very tough to hit -- and he's rested, too. And we know when that happens, his stuff ticks up a little bit. That was really good, though. I mean, to go through that part of the lineup [in Game 1] was good.”