Iglesias shows he's 'big part of this team'

July 14th, 2022

DENVER -- A couple of days ago before disappearing down the dugout stairs to prepare for his game,  spoke like a man convinced he is headed places -- and not out of town, either.

With the Trade Deadline looming Aug. 2, Iglesias has been identified as the Rockies’ most likely player to be dealt. But hear him speak -- and to see him back his words with a home run and a career-high six RBIs in a come-from-behind, 10-6 victory over the Padres on Wednesday at Coors Field – he is putting all his effort into not needing a transaction to play meaningful late-season games.

“I think I'm a big part of this team,” said Iglesias, whose three-run shot in the bottom of the sixth tied the game at 6, and whose two-run single capped the deciding three-run seventh. “On the field, off the field, offensively, defensively, clubhouse -- I feel pretty comfortable here. I fit here very well.

“So I'm not concerned I’m going anywhere. If it happens, it happens, but I don’t see me going.”

For Iglesias to finish his one-year, $5 million deal in purple, however, the Rockies have to get going, or at least accelerate their current pace. With four games left in a stretch of 17 games in as many days, though, the club is 7-6 -- playing at a much better clip than their overall 40-49 record. Wednesday assured them of at least a split in their four-game set, which means they have lost just one of their last seven series in the National League West.

After Thursday, the Rockies have three against the Pirates going into the break to build momentum.

“We have to -- we have no choice,” Iglesias said.

It’s a far stronger position than Iglesias found himself in last year, when he toiled for the Angels until he was released. He joined the Red Sox in time to help them to the postseason, even if he was picked up too late to participate in the playoffs.

All Iglesias has an eye on is helping the Rockies meet the challenge steady-as-he-goes general manager Bill Schmidt outlined three weeks ago: Get to .500 and justify moves to help a team that counts depth as its biggest weakness.

For now, the team should arrive at Coors Field on Thursday at least back where it was not long after Iglesias signed during Spring Training.

Kris Bryant, the seven-year, $182 million signee who missed most of the early season with a back injury but blasted four home runs in seven games last week, could return Thursday from the paternity list after he and his wife, Jessica, welcomed twin boys on Monday. And All-Star C.J. Cron, who had a couple of fits and starts while trying to return from a severely bruised left wrist, lashed a pinch-hit single in the seventh and finished the game.

The Rockies have struggled when their depth has been tested. When whole, they have proven competitive.

A .279 career hitter whose bat has improved with experience, Iglesias has numbers that could become important if the team surges. While his home batting average is just .246, he is one of few hitters better on the road -- .363. He’s also batting .407 with runners in scoring position.

“He knows exactly how to formulate a plan for a specific pitcher,” teammate Connor Joe said. “Obviously, his swing is really good and he’s seeing the ball well, but I think it’s all in his preparation.”

Iglesias’ first big swing, off Padres reliever Nabil Crismatt -- who had given up just one homer all season -- came after another emotional moment earlier in the sixth, with the deficit still three runs.

Rockies catcher Elias Díaz, who couldn’t score earlier on Sam Hilliard’s single because he had turned his ankle, was called out for exiting the basepath while trying to elude catcher Austin Nola as he attempted to score on Garrett Hampson’s grounder. More frustrated with a catch-22 of the rulebook -- MLB wants to eliminate collisions, but the rule penalized Díaz for avoiding one -- manager Bud Black earned an ejection.

But Black was happy Iglesias’ bat stayed in the game.

“José has been consistent all year with the bat, but within that time frame there have been [three] homers and some big RBI nights,” Black said. “He’s been steady, and had a couple really big swings with the homer the last couple of weeks.”