Mike Aviles Honored To Be Starting Shortstop, But Believes Red Sox ‘Will Need’ Jose Iglesias

Mike Aviles Honored To Be Starting Shortstop, But Believes Red Sox 'Will Need' Jose IglesiasFORT MYERS, Fla. –– Mike Aviles isn't planning to revel in winning the shortstop battle.

Sure, the 31-year-old is excited to man the position full-time for the first time since 2008. In fact, he’s eager about it. But Aviles also understands that Jose Iglesias is knocking on the door of a major-league promotion.

Before the Red Sox routed the Rays 8-0 on Tuesday, Aviles pulled Iglesias aside for an encouraging pep talk.

"I told him 'don't worry about it, go do your thing' because at the end of the day, we're going to need him," Aviles told NESN.com. "And that’s the bottom line. [Our relationship] has always been good the whole camp and even to this point."

Aviles may not be quite done receiving the accolades yet. In one of the rare occasions this spring, the 31-year-old hit leadoff for the Red Sox, a slot that Jacoby Ellsbury routinely filled in 2011.

After Ellsbury's breakout campaign –– which may result in a different spot in the lineup –– manager Bobby Valentine could be looking at Aviles to fill the void.

"Yeah, I'm trying to warm up to it," Valentine said after Tuesday's game. "[Aviles] quickly strikes fear into a pitcher's heart, I'll tell you that. That gets a guy doubting his stuff in a hurry. We'll see."

For the time being, Aviles is proud to have earned the starting shortstop gig. It's a complete 360 from his offseason day-to-day schedule, where he gradually learned how to play the outfield in Puerto Rico.

"It's definitely a big honor because I worked hard," Aviles said. "I'm fortunate enough to have the opportunity to do so and like I said before, I'm going to go out there and try to do my job and help the team win.

"This team is going to take every bit of the 40 men on the roster and then some. That's what it takes to win a championship. It never takes just 25 guys. It's more than that and everybody's just a piece of the puzzle. Jose is a big piece of the puzzle just as I am and just as anybody else is in that locker room," Aviles added.

Aviles has been consistent offensively all spring training long at the plate, unloading seven doubles to hit .313.

But he's keeping a level head.

Have a question for Didier Morais? Send it to him via Twitter at @DidierMorais or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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