Monday September 17, 2012 | 05:54 AM

Jose Iglesias may be the Red Sox shortstop of the future, possibly as soon as next year.

There is no question that his glove is ready. He needs to improve his hitting. He looked to do that in Pawtucket. After a slow start, he hit .341 in June. After coming back from an injury, he heated up again, hitting .329 in August, with a .402 on-base percentage.

His total Triple-A average was .269. He's getting better. He needs to play to keep improving.

But then he was promoted to the majors and Bobby Valentine has treated him like a back-up, sitting him for days at a time.

Who cares about getting this kid ready for 2013 when there's a battle for fourth place in the AL East going on.

Sunday's decision by Valentine capped them all. With Iglesias batting in the seventh inning, with two outs in a 0-0 game, Pedro Ciriaco stole second base. The count on Iglesias was 2-2 when Valentine removed him from the game for pinch-hitter Daniel Nava.

It was a solid learning situation for Iglesias- an at-bat in a key moment in the game. And Valentine goes with a pinch-hitter with the count already 2-2 (Nava grounded out, by the way).

Valentine said he was trying to win the game for Jon Lester (like that would have turned Lester's poor season around).

The Red Sox used to be about player development. Hard to keep preaching that when the manager makes moves like that.

One more thing about Valentine. He clarified his earlier remarks, when he called his roster "the weakest roster we've ever had in September in the history of baseball."

Valentine said: "The other day when I made a comment about our September roster, that wasn't meant to be a criticism of any players or anything in the organization. It's a statement of fact because of the injuries and our Triple-A team in the playoffs. This is different. We have less people than most September rosters. We have less positions filled than any September roster I've ever seen before.

"Anybody who thought that to be anything other than a statement of what it was, stand corrected on that," Valentine added.

As I wrote in a Sept. 9 column on Valentine: When you have to constantly explain what you meant, that is not good communication.

Speaking of player development, former Portland Sea Dogs Anthony Rizzo and Stephen Fife are doing well in the majors.

Rizzo went 3-for-5 for the Cubs Sunday, including two home runs (one a grand slam) and a double. He totaled six RBI. Rizzo is batting .300 with 14 home runs in 71 games.

Fife made his fourth start Sunday for the Dodgers (ERA 2.49). He went five innings, allowing four hits, two runs and a walk, while striking out nine.

The Pawtucket Red Sox, recent winners of the International League championship, go for the overall Triple-A title Tuesday in Durham, N.C., with a one-game winner-take-all game against the Reno Aces, winners of the Pacific Coast League.

Reno is managed by former major league All-Star outfielder Brett Butler. The hitting coach is former Red Sox shortstop Rick Burleson.

Now for the standings: 

Yankees 83-63
Orioles 82-64 (1 back)
Rays 78-68 (5 back)

A’s 84-62
Orioles 82-64
Angels 80-67 (2.5 back)
Rays 78-68 (4)
Tigers 77-68 (4.5)

Astros 48-99
Cubs 58-88
Rockies 58-87
Twins 60-87
Indians 61-86
Marlins 65-82
RED SOX 66-81
Royals 66-80
Mets 66-80
Blue Jays 66-79
Seattle 70-77
Padres 71-76


About this Blog

Kevin Thomas covers baseball and basketball for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He wisely moved to Maine in 1994 after working for the St. Petersburg Times. He is married to Nancy and they have nine children.

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