Detroit – Did he do that on purpose?
Did Jose Iglesias, running full speed toward first base and off-balance after fielding a slow roller up the middle, bounce his throw to first baseman Jim Adduci on purpose? It is not an artificial surface at Comerica Park.
Of course he did.
“Come on, man,” Iglesias said, bemused by the question. “You are better than that.”
It was the latest example of Iglesias’ defensive wizardry, maybe his best example.
“That was just crafty,” Mikie Mahtook said.
“Incredible,” Adduci said.
It was in the fourth inning Friday night. The Tigers were up 2-1 and Nomar Mazara bounced a Jordan Zimmermann pitch softly over the mound. Iglesias charged and was on the grass on the right side of the infield, about 45 feet away from Adduci, when he got to the ball.
“I didn’t know what he was going to do,” Adduci said. “When he gets that close, for me, it’s like, ‘Where is he going to throw it?’”
Adduci had to feel like a goalie in a shoot-out – brace yourself and react.
“He put it right in my chest,” Adduci said. “I didn’t have to move my glove. That was very creative. He put it right where my glove was. That made it even better, more impressive.”
Iglesias threw it hard and down, one hop into Adduci’s glove. Mazara beat the throw by a half-step. Had he been out, we’d be seeing the replay of Iglesias’ play for a long time.
“That was the only way you could get the ball over there,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “If you try to throw that ball in the air, it’s going to end up in the bleachers somewhere or off the netting. You are stumbling, you are out of control, if you try to go back up over your head – no way.
“I talked to him in the dugout and I said that was the only play you had. If you throw it down, you had a chance. He said, ‘Ooh, you’re good, Skipper.’”
Iglesias might not be in the same category offensively as the other elite shortstops in baseball, but in terms of defensive creativity and instincts, he takes a backseat to nobody.
“His creativity is probably one of his greatest attributes,” Gardenhire said. “He can do some things on the fly that not too many other people can do. He can make adjustments. He reads runners as well as anybody. He knows when he has to let (the throw) go a little bit and he knows when he can just lob it over.
“He has a great feel for the game.”