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Red Sox morning notes: Franklin Morales returns to Boston; Jose Iglesias ‘starting to figure some things out’

03.14.13 at 10:59 am ET
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Franklin Morales

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Prior to the Red Sox’ meeting with the Twins Thursday at Hammond Stadium, Sox manager John Farrell said that Franklin Morales had returned to Boston in order to have his injured back examined. The lefty pitcher was expected back in camp by the end of the day.

Morales, who has been battling inflammation in his back, hadn’t been making the anticipated progress, leading to the trip north.

“He did go to have it checked,” Farrell said. “He has been undergoing treatment here. He hasn’t really been making the improvements we had hoped for so we just had him checked and he will be back here today. We’ll have more of a detailed update once he returns.”

With the injuries to Morales and Craig Breslow – who is coming back from shoulder stiffness and is now throwing at 90 feet (“Progress, albeight slow,” Farrell said of the lefty) – the Red Sox will most likely have to lean more on Koji Uehara to complement left-handed reliever Andrew Miller in certain match-up situations. Left-handed hitters managed just a .188 batting average against Uehara in 2012.

Farrell said the hope is the Red Sox wouldn’t have to match-up too much, with the quality of arms (such as Junichi Tazawa) being able to function against all types of hitters.

With Morales sidelined, Clayton Mortensen has also started to be stretched out a bit more, although Farrell said, “If you’re looking for a current sixth starter, Alfredo [Aceves] would be the one we would want to stretch out first.”

- Farrell noted the progress made by shortstop Jose Iglesias, who is hitting .214 with a .695 OPS in 30 plate appearances (third-most on the team). While the average isn’t eye-opening, Iglesias has made an impression in regards to his revamped approach.

“I don’t know if you can pinpoint any one year why the offensive side hasn’t developed as quick as the defensive side. I just know the way he has swung a bat this spring I think he’s starting to figure some things out,” Farrell said. “Whether it’s his set-up at the plate, which has translated into a much more free, much more aggressive approach, or the ability to swing the bat. I think more than anything because he’s a little more upright in his setup, he’s seeing the ball better.

Regarding Iglesias adding 10 pounds of muscle over the offseasin, Farrell added, “ I think strength, in of itself, has allowed him to repeat his swing more consistently, and that’s what we’re seeing. You see some line-drives into right-center field, straightaway right. We don’t want him to be just a guy who is going to feel for the ball and be a slap contact kind of guy. But at the same time there’s an aggressive approach with him that I think works best with him.”

One thing that apparently hasn’t changed since the first time Iglesias arrived in camp with the Red Sox four years ago is the shortstop’s self-confidence. As was the case that first spring training prior to the 2010 season, he still believes he is the man for the job.

In this case, the job belongs to Stephen Drew.

“Let’s see where he ends up,” Farrell said when asked if Iglesias has been more understanding when it comes to biding his time before hitting the major leagues.

“Here’s the thing: this is a guy who believes in himself,” the manager added. “He’s confident. He believes he should be playing in the major leagues now. The greatest challenge I think any player has is when does personal goals align with the team goals, and when it doesn’t at that moment there’s disappointment and you understand that, you respect it. But it’s out of their control. Then it’s a matter of, OK, you have to go about taking business we can control every day, and that’s their routine and how they prepare every night.

“I can’t say he didn’t buy into it, but I think what it says is you can’t hide in between the lines and nothing is given to anybody. He has major league ability and I’m sure there’s going to come a time where he’s a very good major league player.”

Farrell said he has been pleasantly surprised by the young talent which appears on the Red Sox horizon, particularly at the catching position.

“No, and I say that just not being familiar with them,” said the manager when asked if he was aware of the kind of prospects the Red Sox’ possessed. “But when you see them first-hand, particularly when you see [Christian] Vazquez and [Dan] Butler behind the plate, they’ve both done a very good job of handling good arms with power stuff from the mound. Their game calling has been evident. While Jackie and Allen may have grabbed all the headlines, there are a number of guys here who have made the most of the opportunities.”

When asked his impressions of Terry Francona in the Cleveland Indians’ “Harlem Shake” video (see below), Farrell said, “Well, we’re talking about as players develop, he hasn’t developed any more as a dancer.”

As for when Farrell might execute such moves, “Don’t blink,” he said.

Read More: franklin morales, John Farrell, jose iglesias, Red Sox
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