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“We lose an All-Star center fielder and leadoff hitter and Mike has picked up the slack. He’s hitting the crap out of the ball,” Dustin Pedroia said. “He’s been unbelievable. He’s aggressive. I like the damage that he does, the extra-base hits. And he can run, too. He does a lot of thing that help us.”
When Ellsbury was injured, Bobby Valentine told Aviles to stay aggressive and not to change his style.
“I go up there trying to be aggressive until I recognize the pitch is going to be a ball. Then I’ll just let it go,” Aviles said. “If I go up there trying to take balls, then I find myself behind more often. I pretty much try and stay aggressive in the zone and try and get on base as much as possible.”
Said Valentine: “Michael’s been a godsend with Jacoby going down and all the questions surrounding our squad, to fill that void as seamlessly as he has with outstanding at-bats, production and playing great defense is a tribute to his athleticism and competitiveness. He’s a good player.”
Globe | Faith in Aviles being rewarded
Every time Mike Aviles does something good (which is becoming a lot), the reaction is some variation of "Marco who?" or "Jose who?" Now you can add "Jacoby who?" to the mix as Aviles is filling in admirably for Ellsbury at the top of the lineup.
We can't expect him to keep up his current pace (he's hitting .333 with three homers, which projects out to 32 over the course of the season), but if he can be a spark at the top of the lineup while Ellsbury out, that's great. If he can stay around .300 -- and his batting average is important because he doesn't walk much -- it will be a big help to the team.
The biggest surprise for me has been watching him play defense. He does have three errors already, but he's gotten to a lot of balls I didn't expect him to. He's also started 12 double plays. Even a big Jose Iglesias lover like me thinks Mike is the right guy at this time. And we certainly don't miss Marco Scutaro, who's off to a rough start in Colorado.
On page 2, the Sox are looking for the next Daniel Bard in Pawtucket.
"The way I look at it is an opportunity right now," Wilson told Pawtucket radio broadcaster Aaron Goldsmith. "I talked with management and they said that's where they'd like to see me. I'm going to take the opportunity and run with it."
"Outside of my first eight games which were starts," he said, "I came out of the pen and had some real good success. I'm not that far removed from it, I'll be able to remember after a game or two what to do."
Alex Wilson sounds a bit like Bard in profile. A primarily college starter who throws heat (he sits at 94-96, can dial it up to 98). A guy who gets a bunch of strikeouts: He's had over 10 per nine innings at Pawtucket this and last year.
Can we add "a guy who can come up and help right away" to the list? We'll see. But it's an admirable plan. The Sox aren't going to need more starter help -- they have Aaron Cook and Daisuke Matsuzaka about to create a log jam anyway -- so the bullpen can still be fortified. I'm excited to see what Wilson can do.
Globe | Red Sox sparked by Aviles | Buchholz needs to bear down | Ortiz has lost weight and regained his skills | CSNNE | Beckett brushes off early frustration, limits Twins offense | Red Sox seeing production with Aviles in leadoff spot | Herald | David Ortiz socks it to 'em | Clay Buchholz looks for restart | Carl Crawford wants a second opinion | Anger management benefit for Beckett | ESPNBoston | Red Sox need bats to keep clicking | Crawford to get second opinion | Ortiz off to best start ever