Aviles to make outfield debut Saturday

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Aviles to make outfield debut Saturday

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON Everyone should finally get a glimpse into why the Red Sox dealt for utility infielder Mike Aviles prior to the July 31 trade deadline when he makes his Red Sox debut in right field on Saturday afternoon.

Aviles was brought into the Sox fold from Kansas City for his versatility and the .316.349.945 numbers against left-handed pitching this season, and the Sox will test both by having him play right field and bat sixth against Yankees lefty C.C. Sabathia. Aviles hasnt played in the outfield regularly at any baseball level since playing for Division Concordia College, and actually hasnt played the outfield at all in the minor leagues or major leagues before heading into a nationally televised SoxYankees tilt.

Sox manager Terry Francona said that the main concern is not embarrassing Aviles by tossing him into the outfield after hes played primarily shortstop, second base and third base in the big leagues and the emergency left field play of Kevin Youkilis against the Yankees last season is what hes hoping to avoid.

Aviles put Franconas mind at ease with some braggadocio, and the former Royals utility guy now finds himself in the middle of the Boston lineup during a meaningful Red SoxYankees series. Something tells me he would have played anywhere that Francona asked him to.

"Aviles gave me a good answer when I asked him how he felt about it, said Francona. "He looked at me and he said, The one thing you need to know about me is I'm arrogant and confident. I said, So does that mean you'll go to the outfield? and he said, Yeah, which I thought was a good answer."

If Aviles can pull off the infieldoutfield thing, it gives the Sox manager the same kind of flexibility with offensive pop that Billy Hall provided last season before moving on to greener free agent pastures.

If he can go out there, it's almost like when we had Drew Sutton; it almost gives you a guy where you can go short and it doesn't hurt you. We'd like to get him out there in the outfield at some point. One thing you never want to do is embarrass anybody. Then a guy makes an error and I feel like I messed up. If he's comfortable enough, we'll probably get him out there at some point.''

It looks like both Aviles and Francona are comfy judging by todays lineup against C.C. Sabathia with the Yankees amidst an eight game winning streak.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Harper, Strickland throw punches in Nationals-Giants brawl

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Harper, Strickland throw punches in Nationals-Giants brawl

SAN FRANCISCO - An enraged Bryce Harper charged the mound, fired his helmet and traded punches to the head with San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland after getting hit by a fastball, setting off a wild brawl Monday during the Washington Nationals' 3-0 win over the Giants.

Drilled in the right hip by a 98 mph heater on Strickland's first pitch in the eighth inning with two outs, none on and Washington ahead 2-0, Harper didn't hesitate. The slugger pointed his bat at Strickland, yelled at him and took off.

No one got in Harper's way as he rushed the mound. His eyes were wide as he flung his helmet - it sailed way wide of Strickland, it might've slipped - and they started swinging away. The 6-foot-4 Strickland hit Harper in the face, then they broke apart for a moment before squaring off again. Harper punched Strickland in the head as the benches and bullpen emptied.

Giants teammates Michael Morse and Jeff Samardzija collided hard as they tried to get between the two fighters. Three Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the pack all the way into the dugout, while a teammate held back Harper.

Harper and Strickland were both ejected. They have some history between them - in the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland, and the All-Star outfielder glared at the reliever as he rounded the bases after the second shot in Game 4.

Drellich: After golden 2016, Red Sox remember what it's like to have things go wrong

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Drellich: After golden 2016, Red Sox remember what it's like to have things go wrong

CHICAGO — More than anything else, Monday’s 5-4 Red Sox loss was a reminder of how much the Red Sox had go right for them a year ago, and just how unrealistic it was to expect so much of it to carry over into 2017.

The Red Sox remain a very good team. But the success of last year’s 93-win team, of any 93-win team is, truly, difficult to replicate. Unlikely, even.

Baseball’s age of parity, the randomness of freak injuries, good old regression — the Sox were due for some elements to catch up to them after a season that was more or less golden in 2016.

Dustin Pedroia, who headed back to Boston on Monday for an MRI on his left wrist, was healthy enough to hit 15 home runs a year ago, his highest total since 2012. The way this year is going for him health-wise, just having him on the field and hitting close to .300 sounds like a worthwhile goal the rest of the way.

(Slides are Pedroia’s enemy, be it from an oncoming base runner, like Manny Machado, or an oncoming first baseman, like Jose Abreu.)

David Price wasn’t living David Price’s best baseball life a year ago. But you know what you can, and probably do, take for granted? He was healthy and devouring innings. He cleared more frames than anyone else in the regular season. Even when he wasn’t pitching well, he could pitch and pitch and pitch. 

Jackie Bradley Jr. had a 1.001 OPS at the end of play on May 29, 2016. His OPS after play May 29, 2017, was .670.

We know how special David Ortiz was. Let’s not go there, because it seems like no one can talk about Ortiz’s absence rationally. His exit did not suck every home run out of the Sox lineup, as many like to say is the case, but he is — of course — a big missing piece.

Not everything was perfect in 2016, lest we remember our ex-girlfriends too fondly. Carson Smith went for Tommy John surgery, for example. 

But look now: Smith still isn’t back, Tyler Thornburg is a mystery if not quiet yet an afterthought and Robbie Ross Jr. not only struggled to the point he was demoted, he’s going through elbow trouble.

Rick Porcello won the American League Cy Young, much to Kate Upton’s chagrin. Porcello will not win the Cy Young this year, if you hadn’t been paying attention, although Chris Sale might.

There’s something going well for the Sox right now: that Sale guy. The bullpen coughed up the game Monday, Matt Barnes in particular. Yet Sox relievers had the fifth best ERA of any team to start the day. 

Hey, Eduardo Rodriguez looks pretty good, doesn't he?

With some downward trends have come some positives. Craig Kimbrel's on another planet.

The Sox may still be a 90-win team. Again, they remain a very good club.

But the wins, the breaks aren’t coming as easily as they did a year ago. You should never have expected they would.