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.''

Kevin Walsh: An unforgettable encounter with Arnold Palmer

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Kevin Walsh: An unforgettable encounter with Arnold Palmer

With the passing of Arnold Palmer, CSN's Kevin Walsh looks back on an unforgettable encounter he had with the golf legend

It was May 2000.  I had just finished playing golf at Pebble Beach.  I walked out of the clubhouse and a Lincoln Town Car pulled up to the putting green, Arnold Palmer hopped out. It was as if he’d fallen out of the sky. 

I had my tape recorder with me and asked if I could ask him a few questions about being a caddy in his younger years in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. 

“Yes, but I have only about five minutes,” he said.

I was very nervous and having trouble putting the cassette tape into the recorder.  He eventually took it out of my hands and did it for me. 

My nerves were gone.

So we’re talking and the door to The Lodge bursts open and a guy yells “Hey Arnold!  We’re in the bar having a beer!”

“Well,” Arnold yells back, “Order me one!”

Arnold was hard of hearing.  He saddled up next to me, and tilted his head so I could talk right into his ear. I couldn’t believe I was talking directly into Arnold Palmer’s ear. He was practically stepping on my feet. He wore tiny hearing aids that were only visible if you were as close as I was.

After ten minutes of talking, I reminded him that he had friends waiting, and a beer that was probably warm by that time.  He wanted to make sure that I had enough.  I did and I was beaming.  I’m not sure my feet touched the ground on the walk back to the car.  

Golf legend Arnold Palmer passes away at 87

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Golf legend Arnold Palmer passes away at 87

Arnold Palmer brought a country-club sport to the masses with a hard-charging style, charisma and a commoner's touch. At ease with both presidents and the golfing public, and on a first-name basis with both, "The King," died Sunday in Pittsburgh. He was 87.

Alastair Johnson, CEO of Arnold Palmer Enterprises, confirmed that Palmer died Sunday afternoon of complications from heart problems.

Palmer ranked among the most important figures in golf history, and it went well beyond his seven major championships and 62 PGA Tour wins. His good looks, devilish grin and go-for-broke manner made the elite sport appealing to one and all. And it helped that he arrived about the same time as television moved into most households, a perfect fit that sent golf to unprecedented popularity.

Beyond his golf, Palmer was a pioneer in sports marketing, paving the way for scores of other athletes to reap in millions from endorsements. Some four decades after his last PGA Tour win, he ranked among the highest-earners in golf.

On the golf course, Palmer was an icon not for how often he won, but the way he did it.