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Iglesias' season leaves Tigers wanting more in 2016

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Arlington, Texas — He made his first All-Star team. He hit .300. He made another batch of spectacular plays.

But he only played 120 games, batted fewer than 500 times. He knocked in 23 runs in 454 plate appearances and batted .194 with two outs and runners in scoring position. For all the spectacular defensive plays, he was minus-3 in defensive runs saved.

And, he got into a dugout scuffle with catcher James McCann, who called him out for giving up on a ground ball up the middle in a key spot in a close game

So, all in all, what kind of season was it for shortstop Jose Iglesias?

"For an everyday shortstop, you are hoping for more than 120 games," manager Brad Ausmus said. "He hit .300, so from an offensive standpoint, he probably exceeded expectations. But I think he has the ability to drive in more runs.

"Defensively, he was kind of what we thought he was."

Iglesias has been out since Sept. 3 with a non-displaced fracture on his right middle finger. He isn't expected to play the field or hit the rest of the season.

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But he was on the field before the game Tuesday with strength coach Chris Walter and trainer Kevin Rand, running and doing agility drills.
There is a chance he could be used as a pinch runner. What's the point, you might ask?

"These guys are paid to play baseball," Ausmus said. "His job is to get ready to play, whether there is a week left or six months left."

It has been frustrating for Iglesias to miss another quarter of a season, especially after missing all of last season with shin fractures in both legs.

"Absolutely," he said. "You want to go out there and play and you want to finish the season on the field with you teammates. Unfortunately, I couldn't."

His goal for next season, he said, is to stay healthy and play as close to a full 162 games as possible.

"Each and every year you've got to be better in everything," Iglesias said. "It's been a rough year as a team. You've got to learn from it and get better for next year."

That Iglesias is on this trip and working to be available, even if it's just to pinch run, is a testament to his growth as a teammate. Iglesias, like so many ultra-gifted performers, can be self-centric at times.

After he and McCann had their spat during a game against Boston Aug. 7, Iglesias rankled some of his teammates by saying, "I did what I was supposed to do. It's fine. I'm OK with it."

Asked if he and McCann had patched things up, he said, "I don't care. I don't really pay that much attention to the personal stuff. I think it was just part of the game and things got a little heated in the dugout; other than that, everything is fine."

Since then, Ausmus, the coaching staff and especially veteran Ian Kinsler have made the effort to show Iglesias how to be a better teammate.

"Kinsler has been a big influence on him," Ausmus said. "Just in terms of understanding his role on the team. I think Iglesias has recognized he needs to think about the team more than he thinks about himself."

Kinsler and other veteran players got on Iglesias earlier this month for not traveling with the team to Cleveland and Minnesota. Even though he couldn't play, it was impressed up him that he could still be there to support his teammates.

Lo and behold, Iglesias, still unable to hit or throw, made this season-ending trip to Texas and Chicago.

"Some young guys recognize they are part of the team and some young guys have to learn they are part of a team," Ausmus said.

By all accounts, Iglesias is learning and making strides.

"You want to work on things and make yourself better for the next year," Iglesias said. "I played with Kinsler and it was fun. We've got a good communication. But we've got to play better, me and him, up the middle. We have to be better for next year."