Aviles happy to return to baseball home in Kansas City

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Aviles happy to return to baseball home in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY -- This isn't the first trip back to Kansas City for Mike Aviles since being traded by the Royals to the Red Sox at the trade deadline last July.

But still, returning home to his original baseball home is special for the Red Sox shortstop.

"It feels good," said Aviles. "Last year (returning three weeks after being dealt) was a little weird. This time isn't as weird. But it definitely feels good. It's always good to see the guys and come back to where you started. I know I had a good sleep last night so I can be extra hyper today because I like coming here. I always like playing in this park."

It was only 10 months ago that Aviles was traded, but in some ways, it feels longer.

"Getting traded, you kind of have to turn the page and move forward and get on the program with the new organization," said Aviles. "That's kind of what happened when I got traded. When you have that going on, it makes it feel like it's been a long time. But it really hasn't. I haven't even better here a year, but I feel like I've been here a lot longer."

Aviles was drafted by the Royals in 2003 and played parts of four seasons with them before the Sox obtained him last July 30. Toward the end of his time with the Royals, Aviles had become a role player and was eager for the chance to play every day.

When the Sox traded Jed Lowrie and Marco Scutaro over the winter, that chance arrived.

"Any time you get an opportunity (to play), it's definitely fun," he said. "I'm just enjoying my opportunity and trying to take advantage of it and show everybody that I can play."

Heading into the series, Aviles was hitting .265 with five homers and 19 RBI.

"I feel like I've proven that I can play on an everyday basis in the big leagues," said Aviles. "I feel like I still need to prove it because that's just my personality."

Red Sox claim RHP Doug Fister off waivers, sign INF Jhonny Peralta

Red Sox claim RHP Doug Fister off waivers, sign INF Jhonny Peralta

 

BOSTON — They have the right idea, if not yet the right personnel.

Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has brought on a pair of former Tigers in an effort to help the Red Sox’ depth.

It’s hard to expect much from righty Doug Fister — who mostly throws in the 80s these days and is to start Sunday — or from Jhonny Peralta, who’s going to play some third base at Triple-A Pawtucket. Fister was claimed off waivers from the Angels, who coincidentally started a three-game series with the Red Sox on Friday at Fenway Park. Peralta, meanwhile, was signed as a free agent to a minor league deal.

Neither may prove much help. Fister could move to the bullpen when Eduardo Rodriguez is ready to return, Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said. The Sox hope E-Rod is back in time for the All-Star break.

That’s assuming Fister is pitching well enough that the Sox want to keep him.

But at least the Sox are being proactive looking for help, and it’s not like either Peralta or Fister is high-risk.

Fister, 33, threw 180 1/3 innings last year with the Astros, posting a 4.64 ERA. He hasn’t been in the big leagues yet this season.

Said one American League talent evaluator earlier this year about Fister’s 2016: “Had a nice first half. Then struggled vs. left-handed hitters and with finishing hitters. No real putaway pitch. Has ability to pitch around the zone, reliable dude.”

Does uncertainty for Carson Smith mean Red Sox need bullpen help?

Does uncertainty for Carson Smith mean Red Sox need bullpen help?

BOSTON — Tyler Thornburg’s gone for the season and there’s really no telling when the other set-up man the Sox expected to help in 2017, Carson Smith, will be back.

The Sox have already made inroads, if minor ones, in bolstering their third-base situation and rotation. Smith’s situation leaves a question of whether the Sox will need to pursue help in the bullpen as well.

There's not an easy answer to settle on at this point.

For one, the timetable with the right-hander Smith — whose shoulder has bothered him on the way back from Tommy John surgery — isn’t clear.

“He's in a no-throw [time] through the weekend,” Sox manager John Farrell said Friday afternoon at Fenway Park. “He'll be reevaluated on Monday to hopefully initiate a throwing program. He's responding favorably to the treatment. He continues to rehab as he's been. We have not closed the book in a sense on anything Carson can contribute this year.”

What does this year mean, though? Will they be able to know by July, by the trade deadline?

“Still too early to tell,” Farrell said. “We thought he was days from starting his rehab assignment after his last live BP session in New York [on June 6]. Unfortunately, that was put on hold for the time being. To get into any kind of timeframes, timetables, I don't know that any of us can predict that right now.”

The Sox relievers have done extraordinarily well without either Thornburg or Smith. Can that continue without reinforcements? The bullpen’s ERA entering Friday was 2.94, the second best mark in the majors. Its innings total, 217, was the second. lowest in the majors. 

So it’s not like the entire group is about to collapse from fatigue. But a guy like Joe Kelly, for example, isn’t someone the Sox want to use back to back.

It’s a young group and ultimately an inexperienced group. But Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has already fallen into the trap of trading for premium set-up men twice, and that’s a dangerous road to pursue again. Perhaps a smaller trade makes more sense.

“Well, at this point, we’re open minded to help,” Dombrowski said when asked if he was targeting either third-base or relief help. “I’m not going to get into specifics at this time on what else we’re looking for. Keep an open mind on a lot of ways on which we can improve. We have guys coming back and both the spots, I think Carson Smith is very important to us and our bullpen has pitched great. The other day, we struggled but that was one of the few times we really struggled all year. 

“I think Carson still has a chance to come back and help us this year.”