The easy part is over.

The Red Sox are a better team with Jose Iglesias on the roster than Pedro Ciriaco, so the team did the right thing by designating Ciriaco for assignment when Will Middlebrooks returned to action yesterday.

Now comes the hard part.

Right now, the Red Sox are a better team with Iglesias in the lineup every day.

Shortstop, third base, it doesn’t really matter. Iglesias is the best defender on the entire roster and he is so hot at the plate right now — .446 average, .494 on-base percentage, .581 slugging percentage in 22 games — that keeping him on the bench like he was last night for the series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays is a temporary solution at best.

The Red Sox seem to understand this.

Iglesias won’t be left on the bench to languish like Ciriaco, that’s for sure.

Playing time for Middlebrooks at third and Stephen Drew at short is going to go down, one way or another. Manager John Farrell has been jiggering and calibrating lineups like a pharmacist all season long.

The formula just got a lot more complicated.

“I think players just tell you what they’re ready for and how productive they can be and to what level they can contribute. In this case, we don’t see Jose as strictly a utility guy,” said Farrell, who said the plan calls for Iglesias to be in the lineup about three times a week. “He’s got a bright future ahead of him, but with the situation we’re in right now, he’s going to find himself at third or find himself at short or possibly at second on a given day.

“To have that type of performance and that type of confidence more than anything available to us, it makes us better.”

Drew has been as advertised in the field — steady and reliable — but his bat so far has not been good. Farrell noted he’s “streaky.”

Farrell added “we feel good about our infield depth.” That doesn’t mean he necessarily knows yet, or is ready to reveal, how to get the most out of that depth.