Aviles makes smooth transition into starting role
CLEVELAND -- Moving out of his bench job and into a starting role has looked relatively easy so far for Indians utility man Mike Aviles. Then again, Cleveland acquired Aviles two offseasons ago with situations like the current one in mind.
When the Indians lost All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis to a right oblique injury last week, Aviles was asked to step into everyday duties. Aviles provides Cleveland with a player capable of handling a starting role at a variety of positions.
"He's very important to what we do," Indians manager Terry Francona said.
Heading into Thursday's action, Aviles had hit at a .500 (9-for-18) clip in six games since Kipnis exited with the side injury on April 29 in Anaheim. The utility man has hit .302 with one home run, four stolen bases, six RBIs and 10 runs scored through 22 games for the Tribe.
On Wednesday, Aviles went 3-for-4 and delivered a walk-off single in the ninth inning to propel Cleveland to a 4-3 win over Minnesota.
"That's my job -- be ready when you're called on," Aviles said. "It's unfortunate we lose a guy like Kipnis, but I feel like our depth is going to get tested. I'm fortunate to get an opportunity, and I'm pretty much going to go out there and try to do whatever I can to help the team win."
Indians first baseman Nick Swisher said that does not seem to be an issue for Aviles.
"He's ready to go, man," Swisher said. "He gets right out of bed and wakes up raking."