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.''

Report: Patriots, Gronkowski restructure contract for 2017 season

Report: Patriots, Gronkowski restructure contract for 2017 season

The Patriots and Rob Gronkowski have restructured the tight end’s contract for the coming season, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. 

The reworked deal can bump Gronkowski’s salary for the 2017 season from $5.25 million to $10.75 million, according to Schefter. 

Gronkowski was limited by injury to just eight games last season. He had 25 receptions for 540 yards and three touchdowns, all of which were career lows. 

The 28-year-old is entering his eighth NFL season since being selected by the Pats in the second round of the 2010 draft. He has played played in at least 15 regular-season games in four of his first seven season, though he’s twice played fewer than 10. 

Brandin Cooks ready to bring back arrow celebration after NFL rule change

Brandin Cooks ready to bring back arrow celebration after NFL rule change

Tuesday’s announcement from Roger Goodell that the NFL is “relaxing” its rules on celebrations is good news for at least one Patriot. 

That would be Brandin Cooks, who began celebrating the rule change on Twitter not long after the league made its announcement. 

Cooks, whom the Patriots acquired from the Saints this offseason in a trade that sent first and third-round picks to New Orleans, lost his favorite celebration last season when it was made clear that miming archery was off-limits. Josh Norman was fined $10,000 last season for such a celebration. 

Following Norman’s fine, Cooks lamented the league’s decision to punish what Cooks had previously done in reference to a Bible verse (Psalms 144:6). 

"Send forth lightning and scatter your enemy, and shoot your arrows and rout them," Cooks told the New Orleans Advocate. "I just remember it sticking with me for such a long time, I remember thinking, maybe I can do something with this."

Added Cooks: ”I’ve been doing it for three years now, and there was never a complaint about it. Now, all of a sudden, there is. It just reminds me that, it's almost as if they try to take so much away from us, but for something like this, that means so much to someone that has nothing to do with violence, it's frustrating. I'll definitely continue to speak my opinion about it, and if they have a problem with it, so be it."

When Tuesday’s news emerged, Cooks and former Saints teammate Mark Ingram were quick to react.