BOSTON -- During their seven-game winning streak that was snapped on Friday night, it was tempting for the Red Sox to start thinking about the playoffs, since they had taken control of the top spot of the American League Wild Card standings.
However, manager Alex Cora is doing everything in his power to get those thoughts out of the clubhouse.
A perfect example is in the way he is dividing playing time at second base.
There really is no division. José Iglesias is playing that position every day. This, even though Iglesias isn’t eligible for the postseason because he wasn’t part of the organization as of Sept. 1. This, even though Christian Arroyo -- who would likely get a lot of at-bats at second base in a playoff run -- was reinstated from the COVID-19 injured list on Tuesday.
“We’re trying to win games, and José’s playing well,” said Cora. “[Arroyo], he’s part of the roster -- obviously we’ll use him in certain situations. But right now, Iggy is playing great defense, he’s putting [together] good at-bats. I think there’s too much talk about the future, right? To be honest with you, the future is today. We’ll take it day by day. We cannot get ahead of ourselves in this situation, so Iggy is playing second base today.”
As Cora made those comments, there were eight games left in the regular season and the Red Sox held the top Wild Card spot by one game over the Yankees. The Blue Jays and Mariners started the day two games behind the Yankees for the second spot and three behind Boston for the top spot.
While Cora is often a forward thinker when the occasion calls for it, this is not one of those times.
Iglesias has given the Red Sox a huge lift since his return to the team he began his Major League career with on Sept. 6, and Cora is going to ride the veteran as long as he needs to.
In his first 40 at-bats with Boston entering Saturday, Iglesias is slashing .375/.444/.600 with four doubles, one homer and seven RBIs. He held down shortstop for a few days before Xander Bogaerts returned from the COVID-19 IL. And since Bogaerts came back on Sept. 10, Iglesias has made a near seamless transition to second base, adding in some jaw-dropping flips to start double plays.
“Actually, it’s not only what you guys see out there,” said Cora. “It’s what he’s doing in the clubhouse. In a short period of time, he’s connected with Xander, which is great. He has a pretty good idea what he wants to do at the plate, too. Like he said the other day, ‘I hit line drives to right and fly balls to left, so [Fenway] is perfect for me.’ And defensively, he’s done an amazing job at second base for a guy that hasn’t played the position.”
Will Iglesias continue to be a presence around the Red Sox should they make the playoffs?
“I think we’ll talk about that, you know, when or if we get there,” said Cora. “For us, like we were talking earlier, now we take it day by day. He'll be here today. He's our starting second baseman tonight. And that's the mindset we have. If we get there, it would be great to have him around. I think what he brings to the equation in the clubhouse, it means a lot. It helps a lot of guys, and he's a veteran that understands how to win ballgames.”
Seabold on standby
When righty Connor Seabold -- Boston’s No. 13 prospect according to MLB Pipeline -- was scratched from his start for Triple-A Worcester on Saturday, it raised suspicion that he would be activated for the second game of the series against the Yankees.
However, Cora said the Red Sox were making contingency plans in the event they are short in the bullpen for Sunday night’s series finale. After Nathan Eovaldi went just 2 2/3 innings on Friday, Cora had to get 19 outs from his bullpen in the 8-3 loss.
“Just in case something happens today,” said Cora. “He can give us length. So, [we're] just thinking ahead, just in case something happens.”
Seabold made his first Major League start and appearance on Sept. 11 against the White Sox, allowing two earned runs in three innings and taking a no-decision.