Aviles continues strong spring at the plate

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Aviles continues strong spring at the plate

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- If Mike Aviles doesn't win the starting shortstop job, it won't be because he didn't have a strong spring.

Aviles continued his hot streak at the plate with two doubles and a single in four at-bats, pushing his Grapefruit League average to .333. Sunday in the Red Sox' 6-5, 10-inning loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.

"In all honesty, I've just been trying to square the ball up as much as possible,'' said Aviles. "I don't really pay too much mind to where it really goes, but as of late, it seems like they're actually falling, which is good. We're getting closer to the season.''

Manager Bobby Valentine hasn't named a starter at short and Jose Iglesias has impressed with his defnsive play. But Aviles is trying not to pay attention to the competition.

"I don't think of it, honestly,'' he said. "I just come prepared for the season. As long as I'm taking good swinging and making my plays, I know I'm preparing myself for to be ready for the season. That's the big focus for me -- doing what I can do to make the plays, get on base and help the team win. I haven't paid too much mind to it.

"I'm kind of a tough-skinned person, so I don't pay too much mind. There's a bigger situation at hand, and that's winning ballgames, winning a championship. I'm not worrying about who's playing where. I play where I play. That's just how it's going to be. Bobby makes that call, he makes that lineup. I just follow accordingly.''

Said Valentine: "Mike's made all the plays at shortstop and hit the ball hard most every game he's played. It looks like he's taken to the position like a duck to water.''

Regardless of Valentine's call, Aviles can comfort himself with the fact that he's given himself the best chance possible with his level of play.

"Absolutely,'' he agreed. "I feel like I've prepared myself all spring and I'm in a position where I can help the team, regardless of what situation it is.''

Tiger Woods arrested for DUI in Jupiter, Florida

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Tiger Woods arrested for DUI in Jupiter, Florida

Tiger Woods, recovering from his fourth back surgery in the last three years, was arrested on DUI charges Monday morning in Jupiter, Fla.

Woods, 41, is the winner of 79 PGA tournaments in his career (including 14 majors). He was stopped this morning at around 3 a.m. and booked at 7:18 a.m. He was released on his own recognizance at 10:50 a.m.

Physical problems have plagued Woods in recent years, but he said last week "unequivocally, I want to play professional golf again." However, he will need months to recover from his most recent surgery.

Get the latest on this story from golfchannel.com

Bradley's emergence as vocal leader speaks volumes about growth

Bradley's emergence as vocal leader speaks volumes about growth

BOSTON –  Terry Rozier was having a rough stretch where his minutes were limited and when he did play, he didn’t play particularly well.
 
Among the voices in his ear offering words of encouragement was Avery Bradley who knows all too well what Rozier was going through.
 
For all his time as a Celtic, Bradley has let his work on the floor do the talking for him.
 
But as the most tenured Celtic on the roster, his leadership has to be about more than just getting the job done, but servicing as a vocal leader as well.
 
For a player whose growth from one year to the next has been a constant, being a more vocal leader has been the one dynamic of his game that has improved the most during this past season.
 
And it is that kind of leadership that will carry into the summer what is a pivotal offseason for both Bradley and this Celtics franchise which was eliminated by Cleveland in the Conference finals, the first time the Celtics got that deep in the playoffs since 2012.
 
He is entering the final year of the four-year, $32 million contract he signed in 2014. And it comes at a time when his fellow Tacoma, Wash. native and backcourt mate Isaiah Thomas will likely hit free agency where he’s expected to command a max or near-max contract that would pay him an annual salary in the neighborhood of $30 million.
 
At this point in time, Bradley isn’t giving too much thought to his impending contract status.
 
Instead, he’s more consumed by finding ways to improve his overall game and in doing so, help guide the Celtics to what has to be their focus for next season – a trip to the NBA Finals.
 
While Celtics players have said their focus has always been on advancing as far into the playoffs as possible, it wasn’t until this past season did they actually provide hope and promise that Banner 18 may be closer than you think.
 
It was an emotional time for the Celtics, dealing with the unexpected death of Chyna Thomas, the younger sister of Isaiah Thomas, just hours before Boston’s first playoff game this season.
 
And then there were injuries such as Thomas’ right hip strain that ended his postseason by halftime of Boston’s Eastern Conference finals matchup with Cleveland.
 
But through that pain, we saw the emergence of Bradley in a light we have seldom seen him in as a Celtic.
 
We have seen him play well in the past, but it wasn’t until Thomas’ injury did we see Bradley showcase even more elements of his game that had been overlooked.
 
One of the constant knocks on Bradley has been his ball-handling.
 
And yet there were a number of occasions following Thomas’ playoff-ending injury, where Bradley attacked defenders off the dribble and finished with lay-ups and an occasional dunk in transition.
 
Among players who appeared in at least 12 playoff games this year, only Washington’s John Wall (7.9), Cleveland’s LeBron James (6.8) and Golden State’s Stephen Curry (5.2) averaged more points in transition than Bradley (4.7).
 
Bradley recognized the team needed him to be more assertive, do things that forced him to be more front-and-center which is part of his evolution in Boston as a leader on this team.
 
“It’s weird but players like Al (Horford) definitely helped me get out of my shell and pushed me this year to be more of a vocal leader,” Bradley said.
 
And that talent combined with Bradley doing what he does every offseason – come back significantly better in some facet of his game – speaks to how he’s steadily growing into being a leader whose actions as well as his words are impactful.