Minor League notebook

Iglesias back in for Pawtucket

By Alex Prewitt
Globe Correspondent / June 29, 2012
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PAWTUCKET, R.I. — Even with sporadic frustration, Jose Iglesias is sticking to the plan.

The shortstop was not in Pawtucket’s lineup for its 5-1 win over Charlotte Wednesday, one of Iglesias’s scheduled days off since he rejoined the team after being on the disabled list since May 29 with a lower-back strain.

“I’m just trying to be healthy, playing the game every single day,” Iglesias said. “Try to take care of my body. I know we learn from mistakes and hopefully I’ll be ready.”

After appearing in two rehabilitation games for Single A Lowell, Iglesias batted second and went 0 for 5 in his Pawtucket return Tuesday.

“It’s tough to evaluate a guy when they just come back,” manager Arnie Beyeler said. “He hasn’t played for two months almost. It’s just good to see him back on the field. He made some good defensive plays last night like he does, put the ball in play, didn’t strike out. That’s kind of his game.

“He wants to play, there’s no doubt about it. These guys want to be on the field. I’m sure he’s not happy being hurt, but that’s part of the deal.”

The deal included Wednesday serving as a “regenerative day off” for working out, staying loose, and taking it easy.

“He’s been working out really hard physically around here, so that’s not an issue,” Beyeler said. “Just getting his back into shape, making sure the rigors of the everyday grind don’t break him back down.”

Heralded for his defensive prowess at shortstop but questioned for his potential at the plate, Iglesias was hitting .341 in May before suffering the injury during batting practice.

Healthwise, Iglesias feels ready to return to Pawtucket’s everyday lineup, but he reluctantly took days off according to the prescribed exercise regimen, if only to help stave off any future issues.

“I feel really good, but we have a plan and we have to follow it,” Iglesias said. “It’s a little bit disappointing. I want to play, but I can do nothing about it, just follow it. That’s just the best for me.”

The newest asset

Before Wednesday’s game, Pawtucket pitching coach Rich Sauveur wandered into Beyeler’s office as the manager was fielding questions about Zach Stewart, that day’s starting pitcher.

“Rich, any pitch count tonight on Stewart?” Beyeler asked.

“He’s going to throw one, I know, at least,” Sauveur deadpanned.

Stewart wound up giving the Sox more. Much more.

Part of the trade that sent Kevin Youkilis to the White Sox in exchange for utilityman Brent Lillibridge, Stewart was sharp in his Pawtucket debut, scattering six hits, all singles, and giving up one run over 5 innings.

“Maybe we should put stock in first impressions, it was pretty impressive,” Beyeler said. “He pounded the zone. He’s a big-league pitcher. There’s a reason he was in the big leagues.”

With Chicago this season, Stewart was 1-2 with a 6.00 ERA in 18 appearances, 17 of which came in relief. Once the top-rated prospect in the Blue Jays organization, he was traded to Chicago midway through last season and has, for the most part, failed to live up to the billing. In 11 starts with the Blue Jays and White Sox in 2011, Stewart was 2-6 with a 5.88 ERA.

But Boston’s plan to transform the 25-year-old back into a starter got off to a promising start.

“I’ve been in that role before,” Stewart said. “Having that experience as a starter in the past helped me out tonight, just getting back into that routine.”

After giving up two singles and a pair of hard-hit fly outs to center in the first inning, he retired 12 straight. He left in the sixth after three singles plated the Knights’ only run.

“Until we get to know him, we don’t want to run him up there too much, just work his way in until he’s comfortable,” Beyeler said.

Effectively mixing his fastball and changeup, Stewart kept his pitch count low — just seven pitches in the second inning and six in the third — and attacked the Charlotte hitters early in the count with fastballs, striking out four and walking none.

Following a whirlwind couple of days, the outing provided some calm.

“It’s been crazy, but I’m so used to it now,” Stewart said. “It’s one of those things, had it not happened to me before, it might be even a little more crazy. But it still was pretty wild.

“I think it’ll calm me down a little bit, get me used to the situation. Just show up tomorrow, get back to work.”

Marrero on fire

First-round draft pick Deven Marrero is off to a hot start in his professional debut, hitting .375 with a .974 OPS for Lowell through Wednesday, serving primarily as a designated hitter . . . On the other end of the spectrum, Matt Barnes came back down to Earth Saturday, giving up five runs on six hits in just 3 innings for Single A Salem. Still, the Sox’ 2011 first-rounder is 5-1 with a 2.17 ERA in nine starts since being promoted from Greenville . . . Since being promoted to Double A Portland, Jackie Bradley Jr. is hitting .367 with four extra-base hits and a .975 OPS in seven games . . . Daniel Bard finally took a step forward, recording a perfect seventh inning for Pawtucket Wednesday. He struck out one and induced two ground outs . . . Four PawSox were named to the July 11 Triple A All-Star Game: infielder Pedro Ciriaco, catcher Ryan Lavarnway, DH Mauro Gomez, and pitcher Justin Germano. They will be joined by Beyeler, a coach for the International League team. Beyeler also will help coach the World Team in the Futures Game July 8 as part of major league All-Star festivities at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. . . . The PawSox signed third baseman Andy LaRoche, who had been released by Columbus, and released outfielder Josh Kroeger.

Alex Prewitt can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt.

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