A full day's work for Aviles

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A full day's work for Aviles

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- It's rare when veteran players make 2 12 hour bus trips in spring training. It's rarer still when they're asked to play the entire nine innings, especially in the first week of Grapefruit League play.

But there was a method to Bobby Valentine's madness when he had Mike Aviles play from start to finish in the Red Sox' 3-3 tie with the Toronto Blue Jays.

"I like to keep watching (Aviles at short),'' said Valentine. "I don't really like to get short glimpses of him right now. I got to see him turn a double play and he was under control.''

He also lauded him for his role in a relay play in the seventh when the Sox cut down Toronto shortstop prospect Adeiny Hechavarria attempting to stretch a double into a triple on a ball hit to right. Valentine said Aviles was in "perfect position" for the relay, then made "a perfect throw" to third baseman Ryan Dent to catch the baserunner.

Aviles said the last time he played all nine innings in a spring game was in 2009, when he was playing for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic.

With Jed Lowrie and Marco Scutaro dealt in the offseason and Jose Iglesias likely needing more seasoning at Triple A, Aviles is the clear favorite to become the everyday shortstop at the beginning of the year.

Aviles hasn't played shortstop with any regularity since 2008, when he played 91 games there for the Kansas City Royals. Since then, he's moved around the infield as more of a utility player.

"Out of all the positions,'' said Aviles, "the one that feels the easiest for things to come back naturally has been short for me. It's the one position I feel like I can take the least amount of reps and get the most comfortable quicker.

"With third, second or even the outfield, I feel like I have to take more reps to feel comfortable, whereas at short, I can take a couple days of groundballs and feel right at home. I'm starting to feel more comfortable playing the game, pretty much.''

Bennett back at practice, but admits injuries hurting his play

Bennett back at practice, but admits injuries hurting his play

FOXBORO -- Martellus Bennett is willing to admit it. 

"Last week was probably my worst game as a Patriot," he told reporters in the locker room on Thursday. "But, you know, you have a bad game here and there. This week, come back grinding, and get ready."

Never was it more clear than on Sunday that Bennett has been hobbled by the injuries he's dealing with. He's coped with an ankle injury since Week 5 in Cleveland that has earned him the respect of his teammates and coaches, but against the Rams it appeared to severely impact his performance. 

He saw four targets and caught two for four yards. As a blocker -- the facet of his game that stood out more than his receiving ability early this season -- he was called for two holds and had difficulty keeping his assignments in check, both in the run game and in pass protection. 

Asked if he may benefit from a week off, Bennett said he planned to continue to play.

"I never thought about that. I just keep going," he said. "I'm like the energizer bunny. I just try to find a way. Sometimes it's [expletive] when you're out there playing with different injuries. You can't do a lot of things that you want to do. You have [expletive] plays. You might have a string of bad plays in a row just because youre dealing with different things . . . 

"But throughout the game you kind of find a way to get the job done. I think that's the biggest point. It may not be pretty all the time, but try to figure some kind of way to get it done. Sometimes it's adjusting as the game goes on."

He added: "The thing about this sport is it's always something. You never go throuigh a season without having some kind of nick or tear, but there's a lot of guys playing with different things. But some guys are able to play through different injuries, and [with] some of the same injuries, you see guys around the league . . . go on IR and things like that. But it just depends on the person and their pain tolerance."

Bennett was back at practice Thursday after he wasn't spotted there on Wednesday. He may be helped by the long week leading up to Monday's game against the Ravens. It could mean an extra day of rest and recovery.

Sometimes, he said, it's difficult not to be out there.

"Sometimes. Sometimes it's like, thank God. I needed that today," he said. "It varies each week. . . I'll fight through whatever and I think that's something that my teammates and coaches know about me that I'm going to try to give them everything I got no matter what."

Tim Thomas ranked one of top 40 goalies on very weird list

Tim Thomas ranked one of top 40 goalies on very weird list

The NHL Network is terrific. Its programming is the best of any of the four major sports leagues’ channels, its talent is outstanding and it shows a lot of cool games across various leagues.  

Players mess up though. 

In the network’s recently released ranking of the 40 best goaltenders of all time, the Bruins were well-represented, but so too was insanity. We’re talking Jonathan Quick in the top 20 (No. 16!), Marc-Andre Fleury top 25 (No. 21!) and Corey Crawford top 30 (No. 26!). Those are just a few of the head-scratchers. 

Tim Thomas was one of seven Bruins on the list, coming in at No. 27. Other Bruins ranked were Bernie Parent (No. 12), Frank Brimsek (No. 23), Rogie Vachon (No. 25), Tiny Thompson (No. 28), Gerry Cheevers (No. 29), Andy Moog (No. 36). Here's the full list, per Mark Lazerus. 

Statistically, Tuukka Rask deserves a place on this list if Fleury and Crawford are going to be that high, but we’ll save the Rask arguments for literally every other second of my life. 

[OK, real quick: Rask has the highest career save percentage of all time. Quick sits No. 17 and Fleury is 32nd. This doesn’t need to be completely statistics based, but it also shouldn’t be completely how-many-Cup-teams-were-on-based. Honestly, I can’t tell what this list is based on at all. Like Cristobal Huet had a better career save percentage than Fleury has.]

Anyway, everyone else hated the list, too.