Pedro Ciriaco Makes Case to Start for Red Sox, Although Not Necessarily at Shortstop

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Pedro Ciriaco Makes Case to Start for Red Sox, Although Not Necessarily at ShortstopThe familiar chants of "Pedro! Pedro! Pedro!" were echoing around Fenway Park on Saturday night — but they were not for future Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez. Rather, they were for little-known shortstop Pedro Ciriaco, who had appeared in all of 31 career major league games before playing both halves of the day-night doubleheader against the Yankees.

Ciriaco, who was called up from Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday to replace the injured Dustin Pedroia, looked like a seasoned veteran on the diamond, particularly during the nightcap, when he started at shortstop and led Boston to a 9-5 victory.

Ciriaco's 4-for-5, four-RBI performance has likely led some to say he should take over the starting shortstop spot. But to declare Ciriaco the starter over proven veteran Mike Aviles — who is enjoying a solid season of his own — after only two games is wildly premature.

To be fair, Ciriaco does not appear to a flash in the pan. He had an impressive spring training in which he batted .419/.444/.651 with a homer and eight RBIs. He nearly broke camp with the big leaguers and had an equally impressive showing at Pawtucket until being called up, batting .301 with 14 steals and 41 runs scored.

Furthermore, Ciriaco's stat line against the Yankees, which also contained a pair of runs scored, only speaks to a few of the ways that he impacted the game.

His steal of third in the seventh inning led to a wild throw from Russell Martin that flew by the outstretched glove of Jayson Nix and into left field, allowing Ciriaco to trot in with Boston's ninth run.

He got it done defensively as well, starting what was nearly an improbable double play in the fourth with a sublime diving, spinning stab on a ball hit to his right.

Ciriaco clearly had himself a game, and he deserved the chants not heard in the lyric little bandbox since a certain Dominican fireballer was striking out everyone in sight. But that's all it was — one game.

Let's not forget that prior to his heroics in Game 2, Ciriaco went 0-for-4 in Game 1. One game alone does not and should not determine someone's worthiness to crack the starting lineup.

And as far as the starting shortstop goes, there's not much of an argument.

Aviles has put to rest any lingering disappointment over trading Marco Scutaro to the Rockies in the offseason. His average may be a slightly low .259, but with nine home runs, 43 RBIs, 40 runs scored and nine stolen bases, it's hard to argue with the production from the leadoff spot. He's no Jacoby Ellsbury, but he's gotten the job done and provided good defense while doing so.

In addition to Aviles blocking him at shortstop, Ciriaco will also have to contend with veteran utilityman Nick Punto for playing time up the middle. But with Punto struggling, Ciriaco's versatility — he can also play second — may prove to be his way into the starting lineup.

With Pedroia out for a few more weeks, it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility for the rookie, were he to keep performing, to ascend to the vacant starting spot until the Laser Show returns.

Once Pedroia is healthy, all bets are off as to what happens to Ciriaco. It's nearly impossible that he will make like Will Middlebrooks and do his best Wally Pipp impression, but a utility spot akin to what Punto occupies could now be up for grabs.

For the moment, however, the Fenway Faithful may have found a new hero at short Saturday night, but they shouldn't expect to see him there on a regular basis. If Ciriaco keeps this level of play up, though, he'll likely still be out there — just on the other side of the infield.

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