On a night when Triple-A Pawtucket received its Governors' Cup rings, a rehab assignment by David Ortiz stole the spotlight. But Jose Iglesias did his best to take it right back.
Ortiz, who is rehabbing a heel/Achilles injury that kept him off the Opening Day roster, went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored in his first game with the PawSox on Thursday. Iglesias -- Boston's No. 6 prospect -- went 1-for-4, but his only hit of the night was a two-run homer, his first of the season. Pawtucket went on to edge Rochester, 5-4.
Batting third in the PawSox order, the designated hitter struck out swinging on five pitches against Twins' No. 4 prospect Kyle Gibson in his first at-bat. He didn't waste any time in the third and singled on the first pitch he saw from the right-hander. Ortiz punched another base hit through the shift on the right side of the infield for his first RBI in the fifth.
Although he was able to some damage with his bat, the focus was partly on the baserunning. And the early returns in that department were favorable.
"He looked good," said Pawtucket manager Gary DiSarcina. "He was able to get his bat up to speed, and he wasn't favoring his heel at all. Plus he got to run the bases twice and didn't seem to have any issues there."
Ortiz ran twice without issue on 3-2 counts after his first single and raced from first to third on Mark Hamilton's double in the fifth. He came home on a weak single by Drew Sutton to left in the next at-bat. By his own choosing, Ortiz, who also spent time in Florida at extended spring training, decided to end his night after those three at-bats.
"It was getting cold out there and I was getting a little sore, but it was a good sore," Ortiz told MLB.com. "I ran a lot today, and because I'm going to play a lot of games here, I didn't want to take any chances. Now I'll get ready for tomorrow."
Iglesias' home run in the third was his first at any level this season in his first game with Pawtucket. The Cuba native had hit only three home runs between the Major and Minor Leagues since joining professional baseball in 2010. He owned a .266/.318/.306 slash line in 88 games for Pawtucket last season.
But Iglesias, who was 9-for-20 with two doubles in six games for Boston before being sent back to Pawtucket, had shown flashes of increased power in Spring Training, where he had reportedly packed on pounds of muscle and even homered in his first Grapefruit League at-bat.
"After seeing his at-bats tonight and in the spring, it definitely looked like he was progressing both with his strength and his bat speed," said DiSarcina, who is in his first season managing the PawSox and Iglesias. "He spent his time up there doing great things, and he's trying to show everyone that he's not just a slap hitter. He's looked good and had a great attitude. Hopefully, we don't have him too long."
The shortstop prospect returned to the International League for Thursday's contest when Stephen Drew (concussion) returned to Boston roster following his stint on the disabled list. Iglesias' new skipper said he didn't show any signs of being disgruntled about the move.
"I first saw him when I came in at 2 p.m. and he had a huge smile on his face and looked ready to go," DiSarcina said. "You can tell he loves the game of baseball and just has this infectious attitude in the clubhouse. Look, he knows Stephen Drew is the starting shortstop. But he's not pouting, he's not being a cancer. He's continued doing what he's doing. Everything I got on him was outstanding, and it's just a matter of time before he's back."
Gibson took his first loss of the season for the Red Wings after giving up five runs on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings.