Red Sox notes: Valentine works on balancing act

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Red Sox notes: Valentine works on balancing act

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- For the first three months of the Red Sox season, Mike Aviles was out of the starting lineup fourtimes.
On the current road trip, now six games old, he's been out for the same number: four.
The Sox are trying to get a better look at rookie shortstop Jose Iglesias, and Aviles has been squeezed out of the lineup as a result.
He played second base the first game in Toronto while Dustin Pedroia was on paternity leave, and returned to shortstop the next night. But Aviles has been absent from the lineup the last four games.
"Pretty hard (balancing act),'' conceded Bobby Valentine of determing playing time for the two. "Mike really wants to play and I understand that totally. But Iggy's gotten on a little roll here so I'd just like to see if that roll can continue. It's tough, though. Really tough.''
Iglesias has had better at-bats of late and has drawn walks in three of his last five starts, but remains hitless on the trip.
When asked if had given consideration to playing Aviles at third base, enabling both Aviles and Iglesias to play in the same infield, Valentine said: "I'm not sure that's fair to (Aviles) - he hasn't taken a ground ball there all year.''
Pedro Ciriaco, who has started all six of the games on the road trip at third base, likely will play the outfield in Thursday's road trip finale.
"I think he's going to be play there (Thursday),'' said Valentine.
Valentine was unsure where Ciriaco would play. Left field would be the least challenging for him, but Jacoby Ellsbury, who has started the last six games on turf -- three at Toronto's Rogers Centre and three at Tropicana Field -- might be in need of a night off.
Ciriaco played some outfield in spring training and has made one start this season in left field, when the Sox were short of outfielders.
"Is it OK to put him out there? Is it fair to the starting pitcher?'' wondered Valentine. "I don't know... I don't know. Maybe. If he makes a great play, it is.''
Ciriaco could improve his value to the Sox -- or another team -- if he could learn to play the outfield and offer more versatility.
"That's more like a winter-time, spring training project,'' said Valentine, "if he's going to be an all-purpose guy or something like that. But he's there to play there. I guess (that would make him) pretty valuable. I don't know what the shape of our team will be next year. He could play out there, I'd be willing to bet.''

James Loney came into Wednesday night hitting just .263 with a homer and six RBI in 19 starts for the Sox, but he's opened some eyes with his glove.
Loney has shown himself to be smooth at the position, with good range toward second and a strong throwing arm.
"Adrian (Gonzalez) is a tough comparison,'' said Valentine of Loney's predecessor, for whom he was traded last month, "in that (Gonzalez) positions himself differently and he's excellent. But after watching Loney, I think his glove is comparable. The throw he made to second on the double play (Monday) night was excellent. I hadn't seen him throw a lot, but fielding, he's very good.''

Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox 5, Angels 4

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Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox 5, Angels 4

Quotes, Notes and Stars of the Red Sox’ 5-4 win over the Angels

Quotes

"It's a joke. That's a brutal call for whoever's back in New York looking at it.'' - Mike Scioscia on decision not to cite fan interference on ground-rule double in the ninth.

"We played with 26 players tonight. I was like, 'Yes!''' - David Ortiz on the fan who touched Daniel Nava's double.

"If I had to go back and do it all over again, I probably would have just thrown a knuckleball. I didn't want to walk a guy, but I've got to think about the bigger picture and just swallow the walk.'' - Steven Wright, on the fastball thrown to C.J. Cron, who hit a grand slam.

Notes

* David Ortiz moved into 19th place all-time in home runs with No. 522, breaking a tie with Willie McCovey, Frank Thomas and Ted Williams.

* Ortiz collected his 2,000th hit as a member of the Red Sox, something only six other players in history have accomplished.

* Ortiz also passed Thomas in career RBI with 1,704, good for 23rd place.

* Ortiz extended his Fenway hitting streak to 18 games. He's reached base at home in every home game since April 29.

* Steven Wright has allowed just six homers all season, but three have come in the last four games. Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts became the first Red Sox teammates to record 100 hits each before the team's 81st game since 1988 when four players did so - Wade Boggs, Dwight Evans, Mike Greenwell and Marty Barrett.

* The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Red Sox against the Angels.

* The game marked the 47th time in first 79 games that the Sox have collected 10 or more hits. That leads the majors, with Kansas City and Detroit next at 39.

* The Sox are 23-9 in Brock Holt's starts.

Stars

1) David Ortiz

Ortiz had a three-hit game with two singles and a homer, the last of which was his 2,000th hit in a Red Sox uniform. The homer also was career home run No. 522, moving him past three Hall of Famers into 19th place all-time.

2) Brock Holt

Holt announced his presence loud and clear with two doubles, two runs scored, an RBI and an assist from the outfield.

3) C.J. Cron

Cron made things mighty interesting with one swing of the bat in the sixth, driving a ball into the Monster Seats for a grand slam that brought the Angels back to within a run.

Sean McAdam can be followed on Twitter: @Sean_McAdam

First impressions from the Red Sox' 5-4 win over the Angels

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First impressions from the Red Sox' 5-4 win over the Angels

First Impressions from the Boston Red Sox' 5-4 win over the Los Angeles Angels

* John Farrell faced a tough call with Steven Wright in the sixth.

Wright doesn't fare well in wet weather, as the Red Sox learned earlier this season when he tried to pitch in a steady rain against Houston. With a downpour, Wright wasn't able to grip his signature knuckler, and the results showed.

In the fifth and into the sixth, the rain was picking up. By the start of the sixth, the rain intensified, and Wright began to struggle. He allowed a leadoff double to Albert Pujols, hit Jefry Marte and walked Daniel Nava to load the bases.

Farrell had Matt Barnes warming, but the manager was clearly trying to get his starter through the sixth and limit the bullpen workload, having gone to the pen in the third inning Monday and the seventh inning Wednesday.

The move backfired when C.J. Cron hit a grand slam. Wright has been terrific this season, but his inability to pitch when there's any rain at all creates a unique challenge for his manager.

* Brock Holt made his presence felt right away.

Holt missed more than a month with a concussion, and admitted before Friday's game that he still wasn't 100 percent recovered.

But that hardly seemed the case Friday night. In the field, Holt fielded a line drive in the corer by C.J. Cron and fired a strike to second, cutting down Cron attempting to stretch a single into a double.

At the plate, meanwhile, Holt clubbed two doubles to left.

Holt used that same inside-out swing both times to take pitches the other way, expertly using the Wall and Fenway to his advantage.

For the past week, the Red Sox were shuffling a few outfielders, none of whom had had much experience -- or success -- at the big league level. Even if he's not 100 percent and can't be counted on every day yet, Holt could provide a nice jolt to the bottom third of the order.

* Ortiz continues to pile up records.

His solo homer in the fifth - a line shot that curled past the right field foul pole, into the box seats -- was No. 522 of his career. That enabled Ortiz to move past three Hall of Famers: Willie McCovey, Frank Thomas and Ted Williams -- with one swing.

Ortiz had been tied with the trio in 19th place for most career homers.

The homer also marked his 2,000th hit with the Red Sox. He became the seventh player to amass 2,000 hits in a Red Sox uniform. The others: Williams,  Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, Dwight Evans, Bobby Doerr and Wade Boggs.

Sean McAdam can be followed on Twitter: @Sean_McAdam