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The Boston Globe

Sports

ON BASEBALL

Deal for Jose Iglesias has sparked the Tigers

Defensive whiz and former Red Sox shortstop Jose Iglesias helped stifle his ex-teammates, taking part in three double plays.

JIM DAVIS/GLOBE STAFF

Defensive whiz and former Red Sox shortstop Jose Iglesias helped stifle his ex-teammates, taking part in three double plays.

There’s no second guess. There’s no “they shouldn’t have done it.”

Jake Peavy has worked out for Boston. Jose Iglesias has worked out for Detroit, and the youngsters Chicago got (the main guy being outfielder Avisail Garcia from the Tigers) may work out for the White Sox in the three-way trade deadline deal made July 30.

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The Red Sox tried to make a direct deal with the White Sox for Peavy, but the pieces just weren’t falling into place. The White Sox wanted the equivalent of Garcia, which probably meant Jackie Bradley Jr. So the Tigers became involved and they got exactly what they were missing — a defensive whiz at shortstop.

When you have a chance to win it all, you do it, because you may never get there again. The Tigers did it by giving up Garcia. The Red Sox did it by giving up Iglesias, knowing they had Xander Bogaerts and Deven Marrero behind him.

After the Red Sox’ 3-0 loss to the Tigers Monday in which Iglesias starred defensively, the question was raised again: Why would the Sox trade this missing piece to the team they are likely going to compete with for the American League pennant?

As Sox general manager Ben Cherington pointed out at the time of the deal, you have to get there first. To trade a defensive star like Iglesias, the Red Sox had to get a front-line starting pitcher — and they did.

It was a tough deal for Cherington. A tough deal for Sox manager John Farrell.

“If you isolate just the player, you don’t find that type of defender come along very often,” said Farrell. “We also happened to be dealing from a position of depth and felt our need was more for a starter at that time, particularly where we are this year.

“He’s a good kid and he’s confident and he played his [butt] off for us. You don’t like to trade that away. We wish him nothing but the best.”

A month later, Iglesias has fulfilled all of Detroit’s wishes after they lost Jhonny Peralta to a 50-game PED suspension. Peralta has more power and is a sure-handed shortstop with minimal range. On a field where you have Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder at the corners, Iglesias’s range is a huge asset.

Peralta hit a walkoff two-run homer off Andrew Bailey to beat the Red Sox June 20. On Monday, the trade bit the Red Sox when Iglesias made game-saving plays in the field.

Iglesias was involved in three double plays, which took starter Doug Fister off the hook in what could have been big innings. His sixth-inning tag-and-throw double play was something out of the Ozzie Smith/Omar Vizquel/Mark Belanger book, take your pick. Shane Victorino had singled, and Dustin Pedroia hit a grounder up the middle. Iglesias fielded the ball and in one spectacular motion tagged Victorino and threw out Pedroia running hard down the line.

“When people make plays like that, you can’t just practice those, that’s just athleticism, flexibility, agility, whatever you want to call it,” said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. “You can’t just practice a play like that. If somebody tells me they practice a play like that, they’re lying. It just doesn’t happen.”

Iglesias spoke of it so matter-of-factly.

“We switched it up and I covered the base and as soon as I read the ball, I just tried to get the ball and make a good double play for the team. I knew I had time to tag him and get the ball to first,” he said.

Leyland and bench coach Gene Lamont discussed the play afterward, and Leyland said he second-guessed himself because he thought the Red Sox were going to hit and run and he should have called for a pitchout. Good thing he didn’t.

As it turned out, Leyland expected one out, but not two.

“Oh yeah, without question [just one out],” Leyland said. “I didn’t think it was going to go up the middle because I knew someone was covering the bag. You’re not thinking that that play is being made that way. Nobody is thinking that. Like I said, anyone that tells you they practice that play is lying to you. That’s just an athletic play, an instinctive play. That’s how great plays happen in my opinion.”

Leyland knew of all the hype Iglesias had received when the Tigers were about to obtain him.

“I don’t know Iglesias that well,” he said. “I know him better now, obviously. When you hear that many people talking about a guy you know it has to be true because too many people are saying good things. Every once in a while you get mixed reviews on a player, but you don’t get mixed reviews on him. Everyone says this guy is fantastic. When you get split reviews, somebody’s wrong. That means the guy’s good.”

Leyland is also becoming more impressed with Iglesias at the plate.

“I think offensively he’s very aggressive. He’s a tough out for a young guy. He swings a little bit too much like a big guy sometimes, but he’s very smart,” said Leyland. “He knows how to shoot the ball to the other side, to bunt for a base hit. I think he’s going to be a pretty good offensive player. And I don’t want to take his aggressiveness away from him, but he probably swings too much like a big guy in certain situations. He’s very bright and he’s very instinctive, so he’s going to figure it out. He’s got baseball sense.”

In Detroit, Iglesias no longer has to worry about playing third, and then moving to short as he did in Boston. He comes to the park every day and he has a job. Peralta is scheduled to come back before the final three games of the season, but it doesn’t appear that the Tigers will supplant Iglesias.

“Different philosophy here but at the end of the day everything is the same — winning ballgames,” Iglesias said.

Iglesias was appreciative of the crowd reaction — a strong ovation when he was introduced. He said “the fans here are great.” He said he felt excited to be back in Boston and to see his former teammates.

“I love those guys over there. It’s nothing personal. It’s a business at the end of the day,” he said.

It was good business by the Tigers.

Detroit Free Press baseball writer John Lowe said it best: Iglesias was to defense what Miguel Cabrera is to offense.

Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.
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