Sensing an opportunity to make the Opening Day roster, a handful of players with shortstop experience have risen to the occasion this spring. It's not a bad problem for manager Bobby Valentine to have.
Mike Aviles became the presumed starter right after the Scutaro trade, and he has given the Red Sox no reason to second-guess. He is batting .292 in spring training and shown his prowess defensively around the diamond, which is the trait that attracted the Red Sox to him in the first place. It would be nice if he drew a walk or two, as he has drawn none in eight spring training games, but maybe he's just working on his swing.
Nick Punto was the other veteran Ben Cherington brought in to compete for the job. Although it has been three years since Punto was a reliable contributor to a major league club, he has a .385 on-base percentage in five spring training games. Plus, Punto's value has always extended beyond his statistics to his versatility and clubhouse leadership.
A couple youngsters are unlikely to earn the starting nod or even make the big league roster for Opening Day. Jose Iglesias and Pedro Ciriaco have not let anyone down, however.
Everyone knows the book on Iglesias by now. His glove is MLB-ready but his bat is not. Nevertheless, Iglesias is 3-for-10 with three runs batted in for the Red Sox in four spring training games. The more he hits, the greater his chances of contributing to the Red Sox this season.
Ciriaco has been a surprise. At 6 feet tall and 170 pounds, Ciriaco has good size for a shortstop and he hit .303 in limited action last season with the Pirates. He has given the Red Sox reason to believe that number was not a fluke by getting 10 hits in 17 at-bats this spring, good for a .588 batting average.
If you insist on penciling in a name at shortstop three weeks in advance of Opening Day, Aviles is the safe choice. Whether that is still the case once June rolls around is up to these four players.