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Red Sox notebook

Aviles happy with new role

Ex-Royal jumps into contention

Adrian Gonzalez’s two-run homer in the ninth inning helped the Red Sox break it open in Chicago. Adrian Gonzalez’s two-run homer in the ninth inning helped the Red Sox break it open in Chicago. (Charles Cherney/Associated Press)
By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / July 31, 2011

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CHICAGO - On Friday, Mike Aviles complained about being a backup with the last-place Royals, saying it wasn’t justified given his past accomplishments with the team.

A day later, he was traded to the Red Sox. But now he’s just fine with being a backup. Thrilled, actually.

“Definitely a good thing. I thank Kansas City for the opportunity and I’m excited to be here,’’ he said after the Red Sox beat the White Sox, 10-2.

Aviles, who was in Cleveland with the Royals, arrived in Chicago in the third inning, put on his new uniform with No. 3 on the back, and played the bottom of the ninth inning at third base.

The 30-year-old has played second base, third base, and shortstop this season. The righthanded-hitting Aviles is batting .222 this season, but is at .309 with a .944 OPS in 55 at-bats against lefthanded pitchers. He is a career .296 hitter against lefties.

Playing off the bench for the Red Sox, Aviles said, is not a problem.

“The situation here is completely different,’’ he said. “We’re in first place and we have an opportunity to win a world championship. It’s going to take more than 25 guys to do that. I’m more than happy to be one of those guys.’’

Aviles was acquired for infielder Yamaico Navarro and Single A reliever Kendal Volz. Navarro hit .216 in 16 games for the Sox. The 23-year-old is an athletic player the Sox seemed to be grooming as a backup. Volz, 23, has a 3.33 ERA in 30 games as a reliever for Salem. He was a ninth-round pick in the 2009 draft.

Sox manager Terry Francona said Aviles would be tried in the outfield. He has not played there since his days at Division 2 Concordia College in Bronxville, N.Y.

“I know I’m pretty athletic,’’ said Aviles, a native of Middletown, N.Y. “I think I can pick it up pretty quick.’’

Red Sox vice president of player personnel and professional scouting Allard Baird was the general manager of the Royals when Aviles was drafted in 2003. Francona said the Red Sox have liked Aviles for some time because of his versatility, which includes a little speed and power.

With Jed Lowrie scheduled to start a rehab assignment with Pawtucket tomorrow, the Red Sox would not seem to have a pressing need for a utility infielder. Francona claimed the trade does not reflect any uncertainty with Lowrie coming back.

“No,’’ he said. “Jed’s probably coming a little quicker than we thought . . . I just think this is a guy we’ve liked for a long time.’’

Miller’s been off If Andrew Miller were fulfilling expectations, the Red Sox might not have tried to obtain Rich Harden from Oakland last night, a deal the Associated Press said has fallen through.

Miller forced his way into the big league rotation in June with a series of overpowering performances at Pawtucket. He then pitched well against Padres, Pirates, and Astros.

But Miller has been a disappointment since. He has a 7.94 earned run average in his last four starts. Over 17 innings he has allowed 15 earned runs on 22 hits and 17 walks with just four strikeouts.

Miller is a deceiving 4-1 on the season; his ERA is 5.45, with a WHIP of 1.88. Opponents are hitting .304 against him and he is averaging 4.4 strikeouts per nine innings, by far the lowest rate of his career.

Miller will start against the White Sox this afternoon and certainly needs to show some improvement. But according to Francona, the Red Sox have not lost faith in the 26-year-old lefthander.

“We really like this kid,’’ Francona said. “The last couple of outings, there have been some things that haven’t gone right, for sure. But if you just get mad, or shortsighted, you can make some poor decisions. Now again, this is professional baseball and we need to win. But I don’t think we view it just like that.

“Sometimes you have to try to be patient because of what somebody can do. Then at some point if it doesn’t work, OK then. But you don’t want to pull the plug too quick.’’

If the Red Sox stay with their current rotation, Miller would face the Yankees at Fenway Park Friday.

Swing away The Red Sox have hit 70 home runs on the road, the most in the majors . . . The Red Sox signed their third-round draft pick, catcher Jordan Weems. He hit .443 with a 534 on-base percentage for Columbus (Ga.) High School last season. The Sox also signed third baseman Nick Moore, their 30th-round selection. With the Aug. 15 deadline approaching, the Red Sox have signed 20 of the 53 players they drafted, nine from the top 15 rounds. First-round picks Matt Barnes, Blake Swihart, Henry Owens, and Jackie Bradley Jr. remain unsigned.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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