Boston Red Sox: Could Mike Aviles End Up Hitting Leadoff?

Benjamin KleinContributor IIIMarch 15, 2012

SARASOTA, FL - MARCH 11:  Infielder Mike Aviles #3 of the Boston Red Sox throws over to first for an out against the Baltimore Orioles during a Grapefruit League Spring Training Game at Ed Smith Stadium on March 11, 2012 in Sarasota, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

I know this sounds crazy since we don't even know who the Opening Day shortstop will be for the Boston Red Sox, but if Mike Aviles wins the job, expect him to hit atop the lineup, at least for the beginning of the season.

Aviles, currently in competition with Nick Punto and Jose Iglesias for the starting shortstop role, played his first season with the Red Sox last year and really flourished in 38 games. He hit .317/.340/.436 with six doubles, two home runs, eight RBI and 17 runs in just over 100 at-bats.

Aviles, a jack of all trades, can play nearly any infield position and worked on his outfield skills this offseason to make him more valuable and increase his chances of making the team.

New Boston manager Bobby Valentine has really given Aviles a chance to not only be the everyday shortstop, but also hit higher in the lineup.

Today will be Boston's thirteenth official spring training game, and Aviles has hit in the leadoff spot four times so far—more than anyone else in camp.

Through 22 at-bats this spring, Aviles is hitting .318/.318/.500 with seven hits, two runs, two doubles, a triple and only one strikeout. In the seven games he's appeared in, he's gotten at least one hit in five of them.

There's a good chance that Valentine is going to shake up the lineup based on what we've seen thus far, even though it makes sense that he usually puts the regular players atop the lineup. Jacoby Ellsbury has already hit third in the lineup a handful of times, and Dustin Pedroia has as well. 

There are tons of different lineups that he could go with, and he could also use a different lineup everyday to start the season to see what works best. We saw former manager Terry Francona hit Carl Crawford third last year to start the season, even though he ended up hitting seventh for most of the season thereafter.

If Mike Aviles can prove he can hit and get on base, he could not only win the starting shortstop job, but secure the leadoff spot in the lineup as well.