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Middlebrooks misses Aviles, stumps for Torii

BOSTON -- One of Will Middlebrooks' best friends in the game, David Ortiz, is close to re-signing with the Red Sox. Another, Mike Aviles, was shipped out of Boston last month.

And there's another, free agent Torii Hunter, that Middlebrooks wants to see in a Red Sox uniform.

Ortiz's two-year deal with Boston is still unannounced, but that's a formality, and the young third baseman is thrilled Ortiz is coming back.

"Very happy," Middlebrooks said Saturday at the Greater Boston Sports Collectors Club convention. "I talked to him yesterday, and he's very excited. He's very excited. ... He wanted to be here, and obviously we want him here, the organization wants him here."

There's only one other person Middlebrooks said he learned as much from this season: Aviles, whom Boston sent to the Blue Jays as compensation for hiring manager John Farrell.

"He played a huge role, just teaching me the game and teaching me the big leagues," Middlebrooks said of Ortiz. "I'd probably say between him and Aviles, I learned the most this year."

When Middlebrooks spoke of Aviles on Saturday, the belief was that the two would get to see each other somewhat frequently as American League East opponents. It wasn't until a half hour after Middlebrooks talked to that Aviles was traded yet again, this time to the Indians.

Aviles told Middlebrooks he didn't want to leave Boston. He loved the pressure.

"Yeah I understand it, the business side of it," Middlebrooks said. "At the same time, he's a close friend. I mean, we'll stay in touch, it'll be nice to beat up on him when we play against him.

"He wanted to stay. He likes playing in Boston, he likes, his word [was] -- he likes the pressure to win in Boston, is what he said. He's a pretty intense guy. [Stinks] to see him go. It's a good opportunity for him and he's still playing in the big leagues, so can't really complain."

Middlebrooks spends most of his offseason working out with Athletes' Performance in Frisco, Tex., although he'll be around for some Red Sox charity events. He's been working out at Fenway while he's here, about every other day with Ortiz and Ryan Kalish.

When Middlebrooks goes back to Texas, he'll be working out with Torii Hunter, the universally liked 37-year-old who's unlikely to return to the Angels as he tests free agency. Even if Cody Ross comes back, it's conceivable the Sox could bring in another outfielder following Carl Crawford's departure.

"He's one of my favorite guys in the game," Middlebrooks said of Hunter. "I'd love to see him come to Boston. He is just a good genuine person. He'd be a great addition. Obviously, you need leadership like that."

Middlebrooks has gotten to know some of the new leadership that's in place. He and Farrell have spoken by phone and at the park.

"We don't really know each other," Middlebrooks said. "It was basically him telling me, you know, 'I'm excited to be here,' and talking to him about the guys he's bringing in, [third-base coach Brian] Butterfield and those guys."

Dustin Pedroia is pumped too, Middlebrooks said.

"I've met Brian before just playing against him, cause he [was Toronto's] third-base coach," Middlebrooks said. "You get to know those guys. I love him. Everybody loves him. And everybody loves John. Talked to [Pedroia], the day [Farrell] got hired. He called me, Pedey goes, 'This is awesome. He's very professional. Goes about his business the right way.' So, I'm pretty excited about it."

Middlebrooks will have a new hitting coach next season, with Dave Magadan gone. Like Aviles' departure, Middlebrooks wasn't thrilled about it.

"I learned a lot from him. He's pretty laid back for a hitting coach, kind of lets you do your own thing," Middlebrooks said. "...He's a very good guy. Gave us a lot of information, he was really good at scouting. We knew what we were walking into. I hate to see him go, not only as a coach. He was a good guy, very good guy."

Boston Red Sox, Mike Aviles, Will Middlebrooks, David Ortiz