Ciriaco spells Aviles at short in series finale

Ciriaco spells Aviles at short in series finale

Ciriaco spells Aviles at short in series finale
NEW YORK -- In the midst of a 1-for-18 slump, shortstop Mike Aviles was not in Boston's starting lineup for Sunday night's rubber match of a three-game series against the Yankees.

Instead, the nod went to Pedro Ciriaco, who drilled three hits as the DH on Saturday, including the game-winning hit.

Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said that the main motivation for the move is that Aviles has been dealing with a painful turf toe injury that also led to his not starting a home game on July 21.

"I'm trying to get Mike's toe where it should be," said Valentine. "We thought we had it in a situation that was comfortable, but it's less than comfortable, so I'm hoping only a day. But we'll see how he feels tomorrow."

Valentine didn't dispute that the injury has coincided with Aviles running through a rough patch at the plate.

"Oh yeah, absolutely," Valentine said. "It's affected his batting. I mean, he's been coming off of it so early, you know? But he's been gutting through it, and he's wanted to play and every time he's been asked, and he says he's fine. Finally, I saw him after the game yesterday and talked to him."

As for Ciriaco, he has done nothing but thrive since being added to Boston's roster on July 6.

Ciriaco is hitting .356 with no homers and seven RBIs in 59 at-bats. In particular, he has thrived against the Yankees, going 10-for-18 with five RBIs and seven runs scored in four games entering Sunday's contest.

"You know, I'm just trying to do my best every time I get a chance to play, and I'm trying to help the team every time I get a chance," Ciriaco said. "I'm just trying to help us win some ballgames, because that's all anyone cares about around here."

The 26-year-old Ciriaco has spent most of the last 10 seasons in the Minor Leagues. He did play in 31 games for the Pirates over that span.

But Valentine has clearly taken a liking to him dating back to Spring Training.

"This is the first time in my career I've had a chance to play like I've been playing this year," Ciriaco said. "Last year, I was with the Pirates, but I didn't really get a chance. I have to take advantage. They believe in me. and I'm trying to do my best every time."