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John Farrell: Role reversal for Jose Iglesias, Will Middlebrooks

06.22.13 at 9:22 pm ET
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Manager John Farrell acknowledged that Jose Iglesias has displaced Will Middlebrooks as his primary third baseman. (AP)

Manager John Farrell acknowledged that Jose Iglesias has displaced Will Middlebrooks as his primary third baseman. (AP)

Initially, Jose Iglesias merely forced his way into an extended big league roster spot with his strong play, with the Red Sox vowing that he would play at least two and perhaps even a minimum of three times a week. Now, as he has continued to excel, he has secured an everyday role as the team’s primary third baseman, with the Sox now working to determine if they can provide Will Middlebrooks with enough opportunities to play to justify keeping him in the big leagues.

“We went from, if Iglesias stays, how many days a week can he play and still maintain his development, and now we’re flipping that with Will,” manager John Farrell told reporters in Detroit. “If there comes a point where we feel like he’s not getting enough reps, maybe [the idea of sending Middlebrooks to the minors] comes into the discussion a little bit more, but that’s not imminent right now.”

The Red Sox had not anticipated this turn of events. As recently as two weeks ago, Farrell had said unequivocally that Middlebrooks was the Sox’ third baseman. But with the 23-year-old Cuban hitting .431 with a .482 OBP and .578 slugging mark in 31 games (114 plate appearances) entering Saturday, Farrell and the Sox felt that they had little choice to make Iglesias their primary third baseman — thus explaining why, on Saturday, Iglesias was in the lineup for the seventh time in nine games (with five of those games coming at third), while Middlebrooks was sitting for the fifth time in that same nine-game stretch.

“It’s hard to not look at it like two or three hits every night is two or three hits every night. I don’t know that we fully expect him to hit .430 by Sept. 15, but he’s playing with a lot of confidence, he’s doing a heck of a job for us, and right now he makes us a better team when he’s on the field, and he’s on the field,” Farrell told reporters.

For his part, Middlebrooks suggested that he on a team level, he was happy to see Iglesias playing so well. He acknowledged disappointment that he’s seen his playing time dwindle, but suggested that his frustration is related to his own performance (a .192/.228/.389 line entering Saturday) rather than to the team’s decision or Iglesias’ performance.

“I’m a competitor. I want to play every day. I understand the circumstances, I understand how well he’s played, and like I’ve said to several people, I’m happy for him,” Middlebrooks told reporters. “He’s worked hard to get where he is, and he deserves everything he’s getting right now. I’m not going to be mad, I’m not going to be jealous. He’s my teammate. I’m happy for him. Am I disappointed in myself? Absolutely. That’s what I can control. I control how hard I work and what I do to perform.

“I’m frustrated,” he added. “Everybody would be frustrated — not because he’s playing well, but because I didn’t perform and do my part.”

Middlebrooks vowed to use the downtime productively.

“All I can control is how hard I work every day. That’s all I’m worried about,” Middlebrooks told reporters. “I work hard all the time. The days when you’re not playing, you can go a little harder, and that’s what I plan on doing.”

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