FORT MYERS, Fla. — The face still looks like a kid’s when he smiles.

But Iggy Suarez will turn 34 in May.

Make that Coach Iggy Suarez.

Suarez, one of the most popular players to wear a Sea Dogs uniform, returned to the Red Sox organization last season as a coach. This year Suarez is the hitting coach for the Lowell Spinners, who play in the short-season New York-Penn League.

Suarez always wanted to coach and apparently the Red Sox thought the same thing.

“When we’re watching minor league guys play, we interact with them on a daily basis – six years’ worth of job interviews,” said Red Sox assistant general manager Mike Hazen. “Iggy was always one of those guys that did everything right.”

The Red Sox drafted Suarez in 2003 out of Texas State. He was a reliable utility infielder but not overwhelming at the plate. Still, there was something about him.

“He was always the team leader, even when he wasn’t the best player,” Hazen said. “We had thought about (him coaching) for a while. We kept our eye on him, even when he was in independent ball.”

Suarez reached Portland during the 2006 season. He played for the Sea Dogs off and on into 2009. In 2007 and 2008, he was the Sea Dogs’ “Citizen of the Year” for his community involvement. His good nature and playful name made Suarez a hit among younger fans. Then-manager Arnie Beyeler gave him the nickname “Mayor” because of his popularity in the city.

Suarez’s best season in Portland was 2007, when he batted .253. A personal highlight came on May 23, when he tripled off Roger Clemens, who was making a comeback with the Yankees and pitching for the Double-A Trenton Thunder.

Suarez briefly reached Triple-A in 2009 but was sent down after 20 games. He wasn’t re-signed after that season. Suarez moved on to the independent Atlantic League, playing for four teams. His last season was 2013 with Bridgeport.

“The last pitch I saw in my career, I was hit by it and broke my hand,” Suarez said. “I gave myself time to heal.

“I was then getting ready for the (2014) season. April came around and no one called. Then May. I thought this could be the end. The Red Sox called with an offer to be an extra coach with Lowell.

“I said ‘I’m in,’ ” Suarez said.

“I thought to myself maybe when I get back to Lowell – because that’s where it all started for me – that I’ll start getting that itch to play again. But not one day did I. And I didn’t have that sense of bitterness. That’s when I knew. This (coaching) is what I wanted to do. And with this organization. I already knew everybody.”

Now he’s been promoted to hitting coach. Maybe a few years will find him at Hadlock Field. “I would love to be back,” he said.

TRAVIS SHAW is another former Sea Dog moving up in the Red Sox organization – but still as a player.

Shaw, who played first base for parts of three seasons in Portland (2012-14), was put on the 40-man roster and stood out during his time in major league spring training camp.

Shaw, 24, batted .350 (.950 OPS) in nine spring training games.

“I know the numbers don’t matter. But in my position it was good to make an impression on the big league staff,” said Shaw, who has since been sent to Triple-A. But he could be back.

“I tried to show them that I’ve taken the next step since they saw me last year, and closer to being ready if something should happen with the big league club, and I think I did that.”

BOSTON HAS another first baseman named Travis, but it’s his last name.

Sam Travis was a second-round draft pick last year out of Indiana and is ranked the 12th-best Red Sox prospect by the Baseball America publication. He looked sharp Wednesday with two RBI singles and a stolen base in Salem’s exhibition game.

Travis, 21, will start at either Class A Greenville or Advanced A Salem. He has a chance to see Portland by the end of the season.


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