DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The official decision hasn't been made. But the player who started at shortstop for the Red Sox on Sunday looks a lot like someone who is ready to take on that position for the start of the season on April 5 at Detroit.
Mike Aviles clubbed three hits -- two of them doubles -- in four at-bats against the Blue Jays. The utility infielder looks comfortable on defense as well, and has done everything manager Bobby Valentine has asked him to do in camp.
In the big picture, the Red Sox are probably best off with Aviles opening the season at shortstop, because that would give highly touted prospect Jose Iglesias a little more time to round out his development at Triple-A.
"Well, the whole spring, Mike's made all the plays at shortstop and hit the ball hard most every game he's played," said Valentine. "He looks like he's taken to the position like a duck to water."
Aviles has made solid contact throughout the Grapefruit League, with the only difference being that the hits are finding grass instead of gloves of late. He is hitting .333.
How much time does Aviles spend wondering if he will break camp as the starting shortstop?
"I don't even think of it, honestly," Aviles said. "I just come in to prepare for the season. As long as I'm taking good swings and making my plays, I know I'm preparing myself for the season when they need me. That's the bigger focus for me, is doing what I can do to make the plays and get the hits and get on base and help the team win. In all honesty, I haven't paid too much mind to that."
Aviles gets a little, well, defensive, when someone mentions to him that he looks good on defense.
"You guys [in the media] are the ones with the bigger question marks," Aviles said. "I don't really have a question that I can play short. I've always felt like I could play short. I feel comfortable, and I'm having fun."