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.

Three-run HR from Sandoval (.353) leads Red Sox split squad past Rays, 7-5

Three-run HR from Sandoval (.353) leads Red Sox split squad past Rays, 7-5

Pablo Sandoval hit his fourth home run of the spring and Rusney Castillo had three hits to lead a Red Sox split squad to a 7-5 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday in Port Charlotte, Fla. 

Sandoval, who has won back his third base job after missing nearly all of last season following surgery on his left shoulder, connected for a three-run shot, batting right-handed, against Rays starter Ian Snell in the fifth inning. The switch-hitting Sandoval had abandoned hitting right-handed in 2015, his last full season with the Red Sox.

He's hitting .353 this spring with a 1.051 OPS and 19 RBI.

Castillo, the Cuban outfielder signed to a seven-year, $72 million deal late in 2014 but again likely headed for Triple-A Pawtucket, went 3-for-4 and is hitting .368 this spring. Catcher Blake Swihart, also probably Pawtucket-bound, had two hits and is hitting .325.


 

Another strong start for Kendrick in Red Sox split squad's 3-3 tie with Phillies

Another strong start for Kendrick in Red Sox split squad's 3-3 tie with Phillies

Kyle Kendrick strengthened his bid for a spot in the rotation by allowing two runs in six innings and striking out six and Jackie Bradley homered as a Red Sox split squad played to a 3-3 tie with the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday in Fort Myers, Fla.

Kendrick, 32, a non-roster invitee to spring training, allowed eight hits and a walk in his sixth start this spring. He's been the Red Sox best starter with an ERA of 2.17. 

With David Price out until May and lefty Drew Pomeranz still a question mark, Kendrick could find his way into the rotation behind Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, Steven Wright and Eduardo Rodriguez.

Bradley went 2-for-3 with his third homer of the spring. He's hitting .244 in spring training games. 

The Phillies pushed across the tying run in the ninth off lefty reliever Robby Scott, the first run he's allowed this spring in 10 innings. 

The Minnesota Twins host the Red Sox on Sunday at 1:05 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.