In a game some would call meaningless, the Red Sox and Blue Jays fighting for nothing more than fourth place in the AL East, Bobby Valentine raised some eyebrows by pinch hitting for shortstop prospect Jose Iglesias in the middle of an at-bat.
Iglesias, just 2-for-28 since his call-up last month, came to the plate in the top of the seventh of a scoreless game with two outs and Pedro Ciriaco on first base. On the fourth pitch of the at-bat, Ciriaco stole second, which prompted Valentine to call on Daniel Nava to hit for Iglesias with a 2-2 count. Nava grounded out on the first pitch he saw, and the Blue Jays scored three runs in the bottom of the inning en route to a 5-0 win.
Valentine's desire to get a run for Jon Lester, who had allowed just one hit to that point, was part of his rationale.
“Just trying to get a run for Jon, obviously. I told Daniel, if we steal second, you got it. Otherwise, I was all set to play defense in a nothing-nothing game. Once a guy gets to second base, I figured take a shot on a base hit,” Valentine told reporters in Toronto, according to WEEI.com. “It’s tough. Jon’s pitching such a good game is what it is. You get him a run there and he wins a ballgame. He’s battling too. It’s not about one guy. It’s about a whole group of guys.”
Valentine said he was not concerned that Iglesias’ confidence might suffer after being lifted in the middle of an at-bat.
“I was pinch hit for with the bases loaded and a 3-2 count. It didn’t ruin my confidence. I think he’ll get over it. I talked to him. He said, ‘Whatever’s right for the team,’ ” Valentine told reporters. “I did let him hit. He went up there. I think there’s a good balance there. [Lester has] just pitched 100 pitches trying to win a baseball game. There will be plenty of time. I don’t think that’s a make-or-break situation. He’s gotten one hit so far. He’ll get the opportunity to get some hits. It’s not kindergarten here.
“If you don’t think it was a good decision, so what,” Valentine added. “I think it was the right thing to do trying to win a game for a guy who’s busting his butt out there.”
Iglesias said he didn’t take issue with the move, although he admitted it isn’t something he’s seen often.
“It’s pretty unusual, but he made a decision. He tried to do what’s best for the team, and I respect that decision,” Iglesias told reporters. “I was ready to hit. I had some good ABs today, did the best I could do. He made a decision, and I respect him.”