- Gordon Edes, Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The meeting was "real emotional," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said -- Jose Iglesias thought he should be in the big leagues. General manager Ben Cherington and Valentine informed the 22-year-old shortstop Tuesday morning that he was being optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket.
"When I stunk and was sent down," Valentine said, "I thought it was the wrong decision. [Iglesias] didn't stink. He has every right to think it was the wrong decision."
Cherington told Iglesias that it was not an if, but a when, in terms of his major league call-up, the manager said.
"I told him what I told Alex Ochoa a thousand years ago," Valentine said, "that just because God delays, he won't deny. God will not deny."
The decision to send down Iglesias means Mike Aviles will open the season as Boston's starting shortstop. "Mike didn't do anything wrong, that's for sure," Valentine said. "Mike did most everything right."
Cherington had maintained all spring that he felt Iglesias, with just 624 professional at-bats -- six last season with the Red Sox -- needed more time to develop, but that he would keep an open mind.
"It was not a tough decision," Valentine said. "Eventually things play themselves out, and it's easy to do the right thing."
Iglesias, who batted .200 (5-for-25) this spring, needs to get some regular at-bats in the the minors, Valentine said.
"He needs to work a little more on the consistency of his swing and play," he said. "He's been working on things, and about two weeks ago, he had a mechanic that looked like it was real functional. I think an 0-for-3 took him out of it. That's one of the things he has to develop, a confidence in his program."
Valentine said he perceived a drop in Iglesias' confidence.
"I don't stop believing in a player until I see him stop believing in himself," Valentine said. "He came into the dugout [after an at-bat] with a look of wondering that I don't like to see. This is not the time to be searching. You have to go into the season not searching."
Iglesias told reporters he accepted that the club was doing the best for his career.
"At the end of the day, I can't control that," Iglesias said. "Get better -- that's what I can control, and that's what I will."
Valentine said it was "never a debate" between he and Cherington on where Iglesias should start the season.
"We've had discussions," Valentine said, "never a debate. I never knew what side he was taking, and I don't know if he knew what side I was taking."
The manager said he was on board with the decision.
"Totally," he said. "I like to think it was partially my decision."
The Red Sox made the decision to demote Iglesias at a staff meeting Monday night. First baseman Lars Anderson also was optioned to Pawtucket, while three players -- outfielder Josh Kroeger and pitchers Justin Germano and Doug Mathis -- were reassigned to minor league camp.
Valentine said Anderson had a "great camp."
"Another team, he could have made the big leagues," Valentine said.
The Sox have 30 players on the 40-man roster still in camp, plus nine non-roster players.
Valentine also announced that he told left fielder Carl Crawford that the club "probably" would be keeping him in Florida after the team breaks camp, and that pitcher Andrew Miller would also remain back, meaning both players will start the season on the disabled list.
Valentine said Crawford would be hitting in the cage and bunt on the field, taking about 20 bunts.
"He feels really good where he is," Valentine said. "He thinks he can play in a game right now. His wrist is no problem at all."
Valentine also laid out the team's pitching plans for the four contenders for the final two spots in the rotation. Aaron Cook is scheduled to throw five innings in a minor league game Wednesday, while Alfredo Aceves will pitch against the Blue Jays on Thursday and Felix Doubront in a minor league game the same day. Daniel Bard will start Friday against the Minnesota Twins.
Red Sox shortstop Jose Iglesias was optioned to Triple-A on Tuesday, essentially ending the spring training competition at the spot.