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With Middlebrooks on DL, Iglesias shifts to third

BOSTON -- Jose Iglesias will get a chance to build on his .450 batting average with the Red Sox, but his smooth glove won't be seen at shortstop.

Meet the new third baseman.

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After playing just one game at the hot corner with Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday, when he made one error in five chances, the 23-year-old fielding wizard was in the Red Sox's starting lineup against the Indians on Friday in place of Will Middlebrooks, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a lower back strain.

"Best candidate internally," was the simple description offered by manager John Farrell as to why Iglesias was chosen in Middlebrooks' absence.

"With talking to [Triple-A Pawtucket manager] Gary DiSarcina, he's an instinctual, reactionary type of player," Farrell said. "He'll need some guidance in-game, as far as positioning.

"He's not going to have the benefit of a third hop at third base. It's going to be the long hop or that quick reaction play more so than it would be at shortstop. That's where we feel his instincts and reaction ability will play there."

Middlebrooks had an MRI Friday that revealed inflammation in his lower back and was expected to miss at least three to five days, Farrell said. With Shane Victorino also needing a DL stint, the Red Sox couldn't afford to play shorthanded.

"Given where we are with the roster, position-player-wise, we had to make a move - and, really, a precautionary move," Farrell said.

"His final at-bat in Chicago the other night he felt a little bit of a stretching sensation or something awkward in that final swing he took when he grounded out to third base and he was running down the line. And in two at-bats last night, it continued to tighten up on him."

While Pedro Ciriaco would been another option to take over for Middlebrooks, Farrell has said previously that Ciriaco's ability to step in at any position, at any time, is too valuable.

For Iglesias, his hot start in the Majors fizzled when he was sent back to Pawtucket, where he hit .202 with a .262 on-base percentage in 133 plate appearances. However, he did smack four home runs, immediately doubling his previous total throughout his Minor League career.

Iglesias doesn't expect third base to be a problem.

"I think it's good for me to move around and help the team in different positions," Iglesias said. "It's fun to move around and watch the game from a different angle and be in the lineup."

Jason Mastrodonato is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @jmastrodonato.

Boston Red Sox, Jose Iglesias, Will Middlebrooks