December 7, 2022

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'He's a pro': Iglesias' steady hands, bat making a difference

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Rox ride 5-run fourth, 4 double plays to beat Nats
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DENVER — José Iglesias has given the Rockies exactly what was required: A steady shortstop.

After 11 seasons, six teams — heck, even eight different jersey numbers — Iglesias has learned to keep the job simple. That’s important. When they signed him during Spring Training, he was brought in to replace Trevor Story, a standout and Gold Glove finalist who signed with the Red Sox.

“It’s not my first rodeo,” Iglesias said of his latest new team. “I’ve been to different teams too many times. At the end of the day, it’s baseball. That’s the game I love to play.

“You have to adjust to your teammates, your city, your organization. But for me, it’s just play the game.”

That game is plenty good enough.

On Wednesday, he participated in three of the Rockies’ four double plays turned by the infield, also delivering a two-run double during a decisive, five-run fourth inning that propelled Colorado to a 5-2 victory over the Nationals at Coors Field.

How important is it to be a steady presence? Well, the Nats could have used a hit like Iglesias’ double to right field (or Connor Joe’s two-run triple, for that matter), rather than grounding into a quartet of rally-killing double plays. Also, Washington committed three errors, and by the time the game was settled, two of the Rockies’ five runs off lefty Patrick Corbin were unearned.

“He’s been in the league a long time, and he has a reputation as one of the best defensive shortstops,” said Rockies starter Austin Gomber, who struck out six across 6 2/3 innings, but yielding seven hits and being the beneficiary of all those double plays. “As a starter, anytime you bring in a guy like that, we’re not gonna be upset about it.”

Rockies teams in recent years have struggled at the bottom of the order. The National League adopting the designated hitter helped all clubs on the offensive side of things, but in Colorado’s case the DH usually hits toward the top or in the heart of the order. Iglesias has batted toward the bottom –he was ninth Wednesday.

So far, it’s been one of the standout spots in the Rockies’ regular lineup.

Iglesias finished the night with a .294 batting average and .351 OBP, which are totals that fit the theory that the lineup is circular, with those lower in the order pushing things along and bringing the top of the order up again.

“He’s a pro,” Rockies manager Bud Black said of the veteran infielder. “He plays with a lot of confidence, believes in his ability and can see how to make plays.

“He’s a heady player. He puts the bat to the ball. That was a big hit for us.”

The Rockies increased the veteran flavor with Iglesias, outfielder Kris Bryant, pitchers Chad Kuhl and Alex Colomé and outfielder Randal Gruchuk. The newcomers are meshing with a group of homegrown players, as evidenced by the team’s solid start at 14-10.

“It’s been nothing but great,” Iglesias said. “It’s a great, young group that I’m excited to be part of.”

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