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Iglesias fever: Catch it

3/8/2010

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- I admit it: I have Iglesias fever. Bad.

I can’t find anything not to like about the kid. Even before he hit his three-run home run to give the Red Sox a lead in the eighth Monday afternoon here, I confess to thinking that the Red Sox should reconsider their plan of bringing Jose Iglesias along slowly.

Just pass go, start him in the major leagues, and use Marco Scutaro as a supersub, the way he’s been used most of his career. What’s the worst that could happen? No one questions that he could handle the big leagues defensively, and if the kid proves overmatched offensively, you send him back down, and Scutaro becomes your everyday shortstop.

Best-case scenario? He is sensational, combining with Dustin Pedroia to give the Red Sox an electrifying middle-of-the-field tandem, while Scutaro proves to be Tony Phillips incarnate, giving the Sox a valuable piece who can play three positions skillfully.

Insane? Yeah, I know, Iglesias hasn’t played a day of minor-league ball, his only experience State-side coming in the instructional league and then in the Arizona Fall League. Even Alex Rodriguez played a few games in the minors before making his big-league debut at age 18 in 1994, and Iglesias is no A-Rod.

The rational approach is the one the Sox are taking. Give the kid as much exposure as possible this spring, start him in the minors, most likely in Portland, and bring him up when you know he’s here to stay, which probably means sometime in 2011. That’s the Sox way, and it has proven successful.

Still ...

I think about the shortstops who were already playing in the big leagues every day by the age of 20, and wonder why he couldn’t join this crowd:

Here are the names:

Elvis Andrus, Rangers

Edgar Renteria, Marlins (Renteria started in the minors when he was 15)

A-Rod, Mariners

Gary Sheffield, Brewers

Jose Oquendo, Mets

Alan Trammell, Tigers

Robin Yount, Brewers

A special group except for Oquendo, who was a very serviceable pro.

It’s March 8. You’d think a baseball writer who has been doing this for longer than Iglesias has been alive would not succumb to such an outlandish flight of fancy. You’d think I’d wait until he started facing a regular diet of big leaguers instead of the Nos. 60-80 in spring games before I’d dare make such a suggestion.

But I admit it: I have Iglesias fever. Bad.