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Red Sox Notebook

Aviles continues to make case

He goes 3 for 4 with two doubles

By Nick Cafardo
Globe Staff / March 26, 2012
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DUNEDIN, Fla. - Mike Aviles has done everything he can do to be the Red Sox’ starting shortstop on Opening Day.

He’s hitting .333 in spring training after a 3-for-4 effort Sunday that included a pair of doubles as the leadoff hitter in a 6-5, 10-inning loss to the Blue Jays. He has made all of the routine plays at shortstop.

What he hasn’t done is wow anyone with his defense the way his main competition, Jose Iglesias, can. Whether Aviles will win the job at least temporarily (it inevitably will belong to Iglesias) is hard to tell.

While Bobby Valentine is a big fan of Iglesias, the manager can’t deny Aviles has had a strong spring.

“Mike has made all the plays at shortstop, hit the ball hard most every game he’s played,’’ said Valentine. “He’s taken to the position like a duck to water.’’

Asked whether Aviles would be his starting shortstop, the manager would not commit.

“He’s started a lot of games down here already,’’ Valentine said. “He looks like a good player to me.’’

Aviles said he has been thick-skinned about the debate through camp and said his only concern is being ready for whatever role he’s presented. Aviles played some right field in winter ball. At one point, Valentine said he would move Aviles around, but he hasn’t done so and time is running short.

“I feel like I’ve always done well in spring training,’’ said Aviles. “I’m just trying to square the ball up. I’ve also played spring in Arizona [with the Royals] where the ball carries pretty good. In Arizona, you usually have better springs.’’

On the competition with Iglesias, Aviles said, “I don’t even think of it. I come prepared for the season. As long as I’m taking good swings and making the plays, I’m getting ready for the season to begin. I’m doing what I can do to make the plays, get on base, and help the team. I haven’t given much mind to that.’’

He said he’s reminded of the competition by the media.

“In all honesty, I’m a tough-skinned person, so I don’t pay too much mind to it,’’ said Aviles. “There’s a bigger situation ahead and that’s winning ballgames and winning a championship. Can’t worry about who’s playing where. I’m gonna play where I’m gonna play and that’s just the way it’s gonna be.

“Bobby makes that call. He makes the lineup and I follow accordingly.’’

He feels he has had a good spring.

“Yeah, absolutely, I feel I’ve prepared myself all spring and I can help the team no matter what situation I’m put in,’’ Aviles said.

Aviles believes he can handle shortstop.

“I think you guys are the ones with the bigger question marks,’’ Aviles said, referring to reporters. “I don’t have a question mark about how I can play shortstop. I’ve always been able to play short. I feel comfortable and feel fine.’’

Jenks apologizes

Reliever Bobby Jenks, arrested earlier in the week for driving under the influence in Fort Myers, issued the following statement Sunday: “I am embarrassed by the situation and apologize to my teammates and to the Red Sox organization for any distractions I may have caused. I still need to let the legal process run its course and until it does, I will not be able to make any further comment.’’ . . . Kevin Youkilis was scratched from Sunday’s game with stiffness in his lower back and was held back in Fort Myers for treatments. Valentine said Youkilis will get minor league at-bats Monday while the team travels to Clearwater . . . On comebacking lefty specialist Rich Hill, recovering from Tommy John surgery, Valentine said: “Word on Rich is good. Still a little uphill for Hill. He’s doing very well. It seems like he’s ready,’’ Valentine said . . . The manager has yet to figure out the final roster spot, which could be anything from an outfielder to a utility player or a reliever. “A lot of guys are doing real well,’’ Valentine said. “When it comes down a week from today, we’ll make a determination.’’

Double duty

Ryan Lavarnway played DH and catcher and went 3 for 5 to improve his average to .455. He also made a couple of nice throws in the ninth inning. They didn’t result in outs, but the throws were on the money . . . Andrew Bailey allowed a hit in his only inning and faced four batters . . . Darnell McDonald continues to excel, improving his spring average to .467 with a two-run triple in the fifth inning . . . Utilityman Nate Spears is batting .324 after two more hits, playing third base and shortstop . . . Lefty Justin Thomas struck out two in his only inning of relief and Scott Atchison, often the forgotten man in the pen, threw a scoreless frame.

Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.

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