FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It was just like old times Tuesday night at JetBlue Park.
Mike Aviles was back, albeit with Team Puerto Rico and not the Red Sox. And everybody was trading trash talk.
Told before the game that Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia -- the more celebrated half of Boston's double-play combination last season -- had called him “a tool” earlier in the day, Aviles shot back, “I already told him I’m coming in cleats up, and that it’s probably going to hit him around his neck. We all know he’s pretty much the same height as the base.”
Pedroia actually is listed as being 5-foot-8. But you get the idea. Cold-blooded.
Red Sox manager John Farrell said Tuesday that he called Aviles the day he was acquired by the Toronto Blue Jays as compensation for Farrell. Farrell just wanted to let him know what to expect. That didn’t end up helping Aviles much -- he was traded 13 days later to the Cleveland Indians -- but Aviles seemed genuinely touched by Farrell’s gesture.
“It was pretty cool,” said Aviles, who started at shortstop for Team Puerto Rico on Tuesday. “He was just calling me to let me know that there was a good group of guys over there in Toronto and that I would enjoy it. But I didn’t get a chance to meet all of them. He didn’t have to do that. That showed me something.”
Aviles, who hit .250 with 60 RBIs in 136 games for the Red Sox last season, is expected to be a utility infielder rather than the starting shortstop with the Indians. He said he’s OK with that because Indians manager Terry Francona has assured him that he will get a lot of at-bats.
Aviles said Francona already has created a dynamic, trusting environment.
“It’s been unbelievable,” he said. “He’s taking care of the players, as he’s been known to do. I think we’re in a great place. If you’re in the locker room, you can feel the energy and how different the atmosphere is. Guys look like they want to have fun.”
And the Red Sox?
“They definitely made some good changes,” he said. “I’ve had the chance to play with those guys and against the guys they’ve brought in. I think they’ll do well in that division.”