Aviles dubs Indians bench the 'Goon Squad'
CLEVELAND -- The Indians' bench has played an important role in the team's turnaround this season. The group has produced to the point that it has been in need of a good nickname.
Tribe utility man Mike Aviles believes he found it.
"Were the 'Good Squad,'" Aviles said with a grin.
On Wednesday, Cleveland locked up one of its goons, utility man Ryan Raburn, to a two-year contract that includes a club option for 2016. Prior to this season, the Indians also signed Aviles to a two-year deal that runs through next season.
That has created some stability for a bench that -- combined with the efforts of veteran Jason Giambi and backup catcher Yan Gomes -- has been an integral portion of the team's roster this year.
"It's been a big part of it," Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said of the bench. "Having the ability to turn to guys like Ryan Raburn and Mike Aviles and Yan Gomes and Jason Giambi, those guys have all filled very meaningful roles on our team. We've had to withstand some injuries, especially early on to some of our position players, and those guys stepped in and did a tremendous job"
Entering Wednesday, the foursome of Aviles, Giambi, Gomes and Raburn had combined to hit .264 (191-for-723) with a .326 on-base percentage and a .462 slugging percentage. The group had collectively produced 33 home runs, 61 walks, 75 extra-base hits and 118 RBIs, or an average of one RBI every 6.1 at-bats.
"We always joke around saying we've got the best bench in the league," Aviles said. "The beauty of what we've been able to do on the bench is stay sharp, and I think [manager Terry Francona] knows how to use the bench properly to the point where everybody doesn't get a chance to really lose their timing. You stay fresh. You're getting pretty regular at-bats, so when he does call upon us, we're able to produce, as well as give the everyday guys a breather."
Francona said an important element to Cleveland's bench is the versatility of Raburn and Aviles, who can each play multiple infield and outfield positions.
"They make a 25-man roster seem maybe a little bit bigger," Francona said.
And now they have their nickname.
"I think one of you came up with 'Bench Mob,'" Raburn said to reporters. "I think the 'Goon Squad' fits us a little better. We ain't nothing but a bunch of characters on the bench."