DUNEDIN, Fla. — There were no highlights causing oohs and aahs from the shortstop Sunday afternoon.

All Mike Aviles did was field his position solidly, while going 3-for-4 with two doubles, two runs and an RBI.

Aviles, who is now batting .333, has played 14 games this spring for the Boston Red Sox.

His competition for the starting shortstop job is former Portland Sea Dogs whiz Jose Iglesias, the man capable of drawing multiple oohs and aahs.

But Iglesias is also batting only .174 in eight games.

Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine has not announced his starting shortstop. But read between the lines when Valentine talks about Aviles

“He’s started a lot of games already down here. Looks like a good player to me,” Valentine said. “He’s hit the ball hard in most every game he’d played.”

Aviles, 31, came to the Red Sox last July 30 in a deal that involved former Sea Dogs infielder Yamaico Navarro (Navarro has since been traded to the Pirates, and is battling for a roster spot this spring).

It was thought that Aviles would be an ultra-utility player this season, and he prepped for the role in the winter league by playing outfield. Then Boston traded Marco Scutaro, and Aviles became the leading shortstop candidate.

This spring, Iglesias has drawn raves for his fielding. And while the reports on his offense are encouraging, he still it not producing.

Aviles is hitting. The question is can he field the position?

“You guys had the questions,” Aviles said with a laugh to reporters. I never had a question in my mind that I could play short.”

Valentine agrees.

“Mike has made all the plays at shortstop,” he said. “He looks like he’s taken to the position like a duck to water.”

Valentine remains coy about who will start for Boston. Aviles maintains that is he not paying attention to the debate.

“I don’t even think of it, honestly,” Aviles said. “As long as I’m taking good swings and making my plays, I know I’m preparing myself for the season.

“That’s the bigger focus for me, doing what I can to make the plays, get the hits, get on base, and help the team win.

“I feel like I’m in a position to help the team, regardless of what situation it is. That’s just how it’s going to be. Bobby makes that call. He makes the lineup.”

• • •

Ryan Lavarnway played the whole game Sunday as the designated hitter, going 3-for-4, including a double to deep center. He’s batting .455.

• • •

Kevin Youkilis was scheduled to play Sunday, but did not end up making the bus trip because of lower back pain.

Nate Spears, who was set to start at second base, moved to third base. And Jonathan Hee, a Sea Dogs utility infielder who figured to be a substitute in Sunday’s game, got the start at second.

Spears went 2-for-4 and is batting .324 this spring. Hee helped turn two double plays. At the plate, he was 0-for-4 and is batting .200.


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