- Joe McDonald, Reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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NEW YORK -- In the final month of the Red Sox season, veteran infielder Mike Aviles found himself, more often than not, watching from the dugout rather than playing.
It wasn’t something he was comfortable with, especially given that he had played so well for the majority of the season as the team’s starting shortstop. Unlike many of his teammates, he remained healthy (with the exception of a small bout of turf toe) and played 136 games, posting a .250 average with 13 homers and 60 RBIs.
He played only 16 games in the final month (making only three appearances in the last 16 games) because, with the Red Sox clearly out of playoff contention, the organization wanted to see how prospect Jose Iglesias could handle the major league level.
Iglesias played 21 games down the stretch and finished with a .118 batting average while playing spectacular defense.
“I know I proved myself and that’s just a fact,” Aviles said. “If you can’t see that then obviously you didn’t watch any baseball this year. You can’t honestly watch baseball this year and see what I was able to do defensively and offensively. I was right there, ranking with all the other shortstops until the last month.”
Aviles ranked third among A.L. shortstops in homers and sixth in RBIs. He was ranked seventh with 40 extra-base hits.
“I know what the organization is trying to do [with Iglesias] and I understand, but it doesn’t take away from what I was able to accomplish this year,” Aviles said. “I think I helped my career. We’ll see what happens going forward next year, but I’m not really worried about it right now. I really, personally, don’t care. I’m going into the offseason, I’m going to work out and get ready for next year. If it’s here, it’s here and if it’s somewhere else, it’s somewhere else. It doesn’t really bother me. They can go in any direction they like. I just know what I can bring to the table and I can help this team win.”
When the Red Sox announced during spring training that Aviles would be the starting shortstop and Iglesias would continue to hone his skills at Triple-A Pawtucket, the veteran wanted to prove he could handle the starting job in Boston.
“I felt like it was an OK season for me,” he said. “I felt like I was able to prove to everybody I’m able to play shortstop on an everyday basis and that was really my goal this year, to show people I can play every day because that’s what I wanted to do for my career and that’s what I feel like I put myself in a position to do. I’m hoping that’s the case moving forward and we’ll see how it plays out.”
Aviles, 31, is arbitration eligible this offseason and doesn’t know where he’ll play in 2013.
“I have no idea,” he said. “I don’t control those things. I mean, I would like to be playing here because I like Boston, but I don’t control those things. I’ll just come ready for spring training -- wherever that may be -- and I have no idea what my future holds for me. I just know I’m getting in my car tomorrow and I’m starting my drive home to Utah to see my wife and kids. That’s all I know.”
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington spoke about the continued development of Iglesias, along with rookie catcher Ryan Lavarnway.
“Neither guy lit the world on fire offensively,” Cherington said. “Both have shown flashes. I think Ryan has done a good job behind the plate handling pitchers. He’s driven the ball some, hit some mistakes but probably hasn’t quite gotten into the groove offensively.
“Jose has made some highlight plays at short and struggled a little bit with the bat. He’s made some hard contact here or there and hit balls at guys. It’s a work in progress with both guys and there have been plenty of good big leaguers who struggled in their first September. Both guys are going to be good players moving forward.”
Second baseman Dustin Pedroia led the team with 141 games played this season, while Aviles was second with 136. He takes pride in the fact he remained healthy and productive during a tough season for the entire team.
“I was here for the entire year, and playing every single day, I showed that I’m durable, showed that I was healthy and showed I can produce from a shortstop standpoint, so that’s all that matters to me,” he said. “I know we didn’t have a great season, but I know from a personal standpoint I felt like I have a lot of positives to take from this season. With the exception of this last month, which has been miserable for me because normally when you play well you just don’t sit the entire month. It is what it is and I’m just going to get ready for next year and wherever my career takes me.”
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