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Cleveland Indians Offseason Acquisition Mike Aviles Providing Versatility, Veteran Presence
By Evan Meyer
Sometimes the smallest of trades can yield the highest of dividends. In November, the Cleveland Indians made a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays, acquiring infielder Mike Aviles and catcher Yan Gomes for relief pitcher Esmil Rogers.
While Gomes has gotten a chance to play with the early season injury to Lou Marson and has shown he can play at the major league level, it is Aviles who has been one of the nice surprises so far in 2013. The 32-year old can play three infield positions as well as the outfield, and has played them well. Aviles, along with players like Nick Swisher and Mark Reynolds, have given manager Terry Francona options when making out his lineup card every game.
Aviles, the son of former major league player Ramon Aviles, was a seventh-round pick of Kansas City in the June 2003 draft out of Concordia University in New York. He rose quickly through the Royals’ system, making the major leagues in 2008. He spent almost three full seasons with the club playing mostly at shortstop. However, in 2009 he had Tommy John surgery which limited his season to just 36 games. But he came back strong in 2010 as he hit .304 before being traded to Boston the next season.
In 2011, due to injuries inside the infield, Aviles became an every-day player primarily at shortstop as he hit .250 in 136 games, with a career best 13 homers and 60 RBIs.
After the season, Aviles was traded to Toronto as part of a deal that brought manager John Farrell to Red Sox. The trade was similar to the one in 1978 when Oakland traded their manager Chuck Tanner to Pittsburgh for catcher Manny Sanguillen. Two weeks later, he was dealt to the Indians as a utility player.
Aviles began his season playing for his native Puerto Rico at the 2013 World Baseball Classic where he hit .323 with a homer and nine RBIs as Puerto Rico made it to the Championship Series losing to the Dominican Republic, and current Indians teammate Carlos Santana. He played in 12 spring training games after the WBC and batted .281.
With the early season struggles at the plate for Kipnis and Cabrera, Aviles has had a chance to play and has had a solid start–which includes four hits in an extra-inning win at home over Minnesota. He has batted .262 in the first month of the season with two homers and 11 RBIs along with showing some outstanding play in the field.
At sometime during a season, a manager needs all 25 men on his squad to contribute. Six weeks into this 2013 season the Indians have been just that, everyone has contributed to the early success. One of those key contributors has been Aviles, and he will be an integral part of the team as they move on through the season.
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