Aviles proving he's fit for the shortstop job

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Aviles proving he's fit for the shortstop job

BOSTON -- When guys do their jobs, things just start to come together in a 162-game Major League Baseball season.

Mike Aviles might just be the perfect example of a guy doing his job.

The Red Sox shortstop carousel has almost always been a major topic of discussion since 2004. But in 2012, Aviles has held down the fort, and it's no longer a position that anyone is talking about, which is a good thing.

Aviles is only hitting .260 after Tuesday's 5-0 win over the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park. He finished the game 2-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI while hitting ninth.

But what is sticking out the most is his terrific defense at short, which Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine called "huge" before the game.

"He's made all the progressions," said Valentine in his pregame press conference. "He's learning to move with hitters and to position himself properly. He always knows the speed of the runner. He's been huge. The stability of him has been huge for our defense."

And Aviles didn't make Valentine look stupid on Tuesday against the Mariners. Because a few hours later, he made the defensive play of the game, in the second inning.

With one out and nobody on in the top of the second, Kyle Seager hit a 1-1 pitch up the middle, and Aviles chased it down to his left, and dove in the direction of center field, snagging the ball with his glove in the grass. He quickly got up and fired a seed to first for the out.

Afterwards, Aviles admitted that the effort to make that play was fueled even more so by the fact that he wanted to have Josh Beckett's back.

"It was just one of those plays where I was shaded a little bit up the middle, and you know, Josh Beckett is one heck of a teammate, regardless of how people portray him at times," said Aviles when asked about the diving play. "He is a really, really good teammate, and he's here for us. So, anytime he's on the mound, or any pitcher on the mound for that matter, we're trying to get their back, because we know they've got our back."

Aviles was just one of many strongly supporting Beckett after Tuesday's win. But there were also players supporting Aviles, and his defensive efforts this season.

"He's been great," said Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia after Tuesday's win. "He's been working real hard and he's making a ton of great plays out there and saving a lot of runs for us. He's doing an awesome job."

Aviles also produced at the plate on Tuesday, and it began with an RBI double to right-center in the bottom of the fourth that put the Red Sox up 2-0. He added an another RBI in the bottom of the eighth after dropping a double down the left-field line, giving Boston a 5-0 lead.

He said he's just trying to hang with the big boys.

"I've just been fortunate," said Aviles. "It feels good, playing on a team like this, where everybody pretty much is a really good hitter. It's a little easier to feed off some energy from other players.

"I'm trying not to be the weak link, is pretty much what it comes down to. I don't want to be that guy that always gets out. So, when you've got guys like Papi Ortiz, Pedey Pedroia, Gonzo Adrian Gonzalez, I mean, they're non-stop getting hits and RBIs, I kind of want to join the parade too."

Aviles was one of the leaders of the parade, both offensively and defensively, on Tuesday.

And as shortstop of the Boston Red Sox, he's just doing his job.

White Sox suspend Chris Sale over uniform flap

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White Sox suspend Chris Sale over uniform flap

CHICAGO - The Chicago White Sox were set to wear throwback uniforms. Chris Sale had other ideas.

The White Sox suspended their ace five days without pay for destroying collared throwback uniforms the team was scheduled to wear.

The team announced the punishment on Sunday after Sale was scratched from his scheduled start and sent home the previous night.

The suspension comes to $250,000 of his $9.15 million salary. He was also fined about $12,700 - the cost of the destroyed jerseys - according to a person familiar with the penalty. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because no statements were authorized.

"Obviously we're all extremely disappointed that we have to deal with this issue at this time both from the standpoint of the club as well as Chris' perspective," general manager Rick Hahn said. "It's unfortunate that it has become this level of an issue and potential distraction taking away from what we're trying to accomplish on the field."

Sale was not expected at the ballpark on Sunday. He is eligible to return Thursday against the crosstown Cubs at Wrigley Field, though Hahn would not say if the left-hander would start that game.

The Major League Baseball Players Association declined comment, spokesman Greg Bouris said. Sale could ask the union to file a grievance.

FanRag Sports first reported Sale was protesting the 1976-style jerseys, which were navy and sported unusual collars on a hot and humid night.

Sale then cut up an unknown number of jerseys before the game and was told to leave the stadium. With not enough usable 1976 jerseys available, the White Sox wore white throwback uniforms from the 1983 season.

The incident comes with the White Sox in a tailspin after a 23-10 start and Sale's name circulating in trade rumors.

"The actions or behaviors of the last 24 hours does not change in any aspect, any respect, our belief that Chris Sale can help this club win a championship and win multiple championships," Hahn said. "It does not move the needle one iota in terms of his value to this club, his value to any other club that may be interested in his services or the likelihood of him being moved or kept whatsoever. None of that stuff is impacted at all by these events."

The incident does raise some questions in general about throwback uniforms, how players feel about them and whether they should be forced to wear jerseys that aren't comfortable - particularly starting pitchers.

"If I'm playing with Chris Sale I want him to pitch," Colorado Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez said. "If he wants to play with no shirt, we play with no shirt. I just want him to pitch."

New York Yankees pitcher Chasen Shreve said: "Pitchers like their stuff. Me, it doesn't bother me, but for him, obviously it does. It's crazy. I don't think I'm that bad."

White Sox pitcher James Shields wouldn't comment on whether players should be made to wear throwback jerseys. But he did say: "I don't really mind the throwbacks. I haven't had any issues with that."

Manager Robin Ventura said players occasionally wearing uniforms they don't like comes with the job.

"But you wear it," he said. "If you want to rip it after, you can rip it up after. I've seen guys rip it up after."

Hahn said throwback uniforms the White Sox wore last season were a bit baggy so the team took measurements in spring training so they would fit the players better. He also mentioned the money the uniforms generate.

"Part of the element of being in position to win a championship is the revenue side of the operation and respect for their reasonable requests to increase revenue," Hahn said.

This wasn't the first flare-up involving the 27-year-old Sale, who is known for his competitive streak and strict training regimen.

He was openly critical of team executive Ken Williams during spring training when he said Drake LaRoche, the son of teammate Adam LaRoche, would no longer be allowed in the clubhouse. Adam LaRoche retired as a result, and Sale hung the LaRoches' jerseys in his locker.

He was also suspended five games by Major League Baseball last season for his role in a brawl at Kansas City that started with a flare-up between teammate Adam Eaton and the Royals' Yordano Ventura. Sale went to the Royals clubhouse after he got tossed and was seen pounding on the door.

Hahn said the punishment was unrelated to previous incidents. He also said the two had a "very candid" meeting in his office with Sale after the pitcher had some exchanges with staff members in the clubhouse and that both "expressed remorse." They spoke again on Sunday.

"At that point last night Chris stood by his actions," Hahn said. "Part of what makes Chris great, part of what makes him elite, is his passion and commitment. We've seen that sometimes spill out from between the white lines. Yesterday was one of those instances and it unfortunately led to events that required discipline."