Mike Aviles deals with a new Red Sox reality

MIKE AVILESTwo years left on his deal
MIKE AVILESTwo years left on his deal

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Red Sox shortstop Mike Aviles finds himself in a strange situation as the season winds down: He has played well enough to lose playing time.

The Sox are in full-fledged evaluation mode, using players such as Jose Iglesias, Ryan Lavarnway, Pedro Ciriaco, and Mauro Gomez on a regular basis to better determine their value.

That has left Aviles with some undesired time off. He started at shortstop Thursday night against the Angels for the first time in the three-game series. Aviles didn’t play Tuesday and was the designated hitter Wednesday.

Aviles went into the game hitting .257 with 13 homers and 58 RBIs. Among American League shortstops, he was second in RBIs, third in home runs, and seventh in OPS at .689.


In ultimate zone rating, an advanced defensive statistic, Aviles was fifth in the league at 7.8. That’s far better than Erick Aybar of the Angels, the 2011 Gold Glove winner.

But Aviles can’t count on playing every day as the Red Sox prepare for 2013.

“You can look at in a positive manner, in a sense, that at least I’ve done a good job,’’ Aviles said. “But the negative side is that if I’ve done a good enough job, I’d like to be playing. It’s a double-edged sword, but I understand the situation.

“We have a lot of young guys and they need to see what they can do. I’ve gone through this before and I understand it.’’

Aviles, 31, is not the shortstop of the future. The 22-year-old Iglesias has shown improvement this season. The Sox also have 19-year-old Xander Bogaerts in Double A and made 22-year-old Deven Marrero their first pick in the June draft.

But Aviles could have considerable value as a utility player. He remains under team control for two more seasons and has the ability to play several positions, including left field.

“I’m proud of how I played defense this season,’’ Aviles said. “Whether it’s here or somewhere else, it’s a commodity to be able to play shortstop and I proved I can play there every day and play the position well.


“I’ve always been considered an offensive player. But I wanted to make sure my defense would be solid coming into this season. On this team, I feel like I’ve done the job.’’

Manager Bobby Valentine, who has been an advocate of Aviles, said it’s a delicate balance to find playing time for everybody involved.

“I don’t want [him] to be punished by not having the opportunity to add to a good season,’’ Valentine said. “It becomes difficult, but I’m trying to do what’s best for the situation.’’

Aviles is hoping to return to the Red Sox. He enjoys Boston, his teammates, and the organization. In a season of tumult, he has maintained a positive outlook.

Aviles, who is bilingual, also has been a mentor to players such as Gomez and Ciriaco.

“I love it here, in all honesty,’’ Aviles said. “I love the players, I love the coaching staff and I get along with everybody. Everybody in here is always giving me a hard time and that’s a sign of people liking you. I’ve fit in well here.

“Playing at Fenway has been great for me and I love the fans and the environment. Being from New York, it’s great to play close to my family and friends, too. I really do want to come back.’’

Aviles isn’t pleased with how the team is playing and understands the need to evaluate young players. But he also wants to finish the season strong.


“It has been a good year for me personally,’’ he said. “Hopefully I’ve earned the right to stay out there. I want to keep playing and help us win some games.’’

Bard added to roster

The Red Sox added Daniel Bard to the roster before the game after optioning Wednesday’s starter, Zach Stewart, to Pawtucket.

Stewart allowed nine runs on 10 hits over three innings in a 10-3 loss. Not since April 26, 1902, has a pitcher given up more runs in his debut with Boston. That was Pep Deininger, who allowed 11 runs against the Senators.

Bard spent nearly three months in the minors after failing as a starter early in the season. He had control problems with Pawtucket, but has shown some improvement of late.

Valentine said his aim would be to use Bard in certain spots, mainly to start innings in non-pressurized situations.

“Hopefully be able to pitch him when I want to, not when I have to,’’ Valentine said.

Splendid memory

Hall of Famer Ted Williams, who died in 2002, was born on Aug. 30, 1918, so Thursday was his birthday. Valentine met Williams in 1969 or 1970 during spring training. Years later, he saw Williams speak to a crowd in New York during a Baseball Assistance Team dinner. “I spent some glorious time with him,’’ Valentine said. “He was special.’’ Valentine also crossed paths with Williams at an Old Timers Day in Texas one year. Williams managed the Washington Senators (and then the Rangers when they moved) from 1969-72. Valentine managed Texas from 1985-92 . . . Valentine said he hoped to stretch out Alfredo Aceves, but not necessarily to get him ready to start a game before the season is over. Aceves pitched two scoreless innings and threw 33 pitches Wednesday night. With Andrew Bailey set to work as the closer, Aceves may not be used in many save situations over the final weeks of the season.

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