TORONTO --- Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said he was only trying to cobble together a run for starting pitcher Jon Lester in Sunday’s 5-0 loss to the Blue Jays when he decided to make the unusual move of sending Daniel Nava in to pinch-hit for Jose Iglesias in the seventh inning -- in the middle of his at-bat, no less.
“Just trying to get a run for Jon, obviously,” Valentine said, explaining his rationale for lifting Iglesias after Pedro Ciriaco reached on a two-out single to left and stole second to put a runner in scoring position.
“Told Daniel if [Ciriaco] steals second, you’ve got it. Otherwise, I was all set to play defense,’’ Valentine said. “I was pinch-hit for with the bases loaded, 3-2 count, and it didn’t ruin my confidence. I talked to [Iglesias]. He’ll get over it. He said, ‘Whatever’s right for the team.’”
Said Iglesias, “It’s pretty unusual, but he made a decision. He tried to do what’s best for the team, and I respect that decision.”
With the Red Sox engaged in a scoreless stalemate against the Blue Jays, Iglesias worked the count to 2-and-2 against reliever Brandon Lyon when Ciriaco stole second. It was at that point Valentine lifted Iglesias, who had struck out looking and flew out to right in his two previous at-bats, in favor of the switch-hitting Nava, who had been hitting .217 with runners in scoring position.
Nava wound up grounding back to the mound to end the inning.
“I was told to be ready,’’ Nava said, when asked if he was surprised to find himself pinch-hitting for Iglesias in the middle of his at-bat. “Anyone who is on the bench, you know you got to be ready. I didn’t know the exact details when I could be going in, but if a guy comes off the bench, it doesn’t matter if it’s a new at-bat, fresh count, or in the middle – obviously, something I’ve never done before – but you still have to be ready.’’
Asked if he felt for Iglesias in that situation, Nava replied, “Oh, yeah, totally. But I think we were in a situation; it was a 0-0 game and we were trying to get a runner across. I’m sure Iggy was feeling like he normally does if he stayed in there. You don’t want to be that guy. It’s unfortunate for him that I was unable to get a knock and that it didn’t work out.’’
Iglesias, who has started 10 of the last 18 games, was hitting .071 after going 2-for-28 in 26 games since his Aug. 25 call-up from Triple A Pawtucket.
“I don’t think it was a make-or-break situation,” Valentine said. “He’ll have an opportunity to get some hits. It’s not kindergarten here. You don’t think it was a good decision. So what? I think it was the right thing to do to try to win a game for a [pitcher] who’s busting his butt out there.”