Bill Madden of the New York Daily News wrote a column about Bobby Valentine in which he reports that the Red Sox manager “got all over shortstop Mike Aviles in what sources described as ‘a very ugly scene’ during infield drills.”
That was during spring training and Madden claims that the incident led to a “near player revolt” in which “a group of Red Sox players confronted him with outrage” and “Valentine had to apologize to Aviles.”
Rob Bradford of WEEI.com contacted Aviles directly to ask for his side of the story and he replied: “I don’t know where that came from. I don’t remember any incident like that. There was nothing that comes to mind that would be anything like that other than just normal player/coach interaction.”
Not exactly a firm, no-doubt-about-it denial, or maybe I’m just being too cynical. Either way, even Maddon writes that “since then Valentine has outwardly praised Aviles” and of course installing him as the leadoff hitter despite a .319 career on-base percentage suggests the stay in the doghouse was short-lived if it existed at all.
Free agent middle infielder Danny Espinosa signed a minor-league deal with the Blue Jays, the team announced Saturday. The deal includes an invite to spring training, where Espinosa is scheduled for his first split-squad game against the Orioles this afternoon.
Espinosa, 30, was inked to another minor-league deal with the Yankees in January. The veteran infielder was competing for an infield job until the team picked up second baseman Neil Walker on a one-year, $4 million deal last Monday. Prior to his release, he slashed .160/.276/.320 with one home run through his first 12 games with the Yankees this spring. He didn’t fare much better in the majors last year, either, batting a cumulative .173/.245/.278 with six home runs and a .523 OPS in 295 PA for the Mariners and Rays.
Blue Jays starting shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is still dealing with a bone spur in his heel and has officially been ruled out for Opening Day, which could clear a path for Espinosa to claim a starting role in Toronto. Of course, he won’t be the only candidate under consideration — Yangervis Solarte and Aledmys Diaz are still in the mix as well, though no final decision appears to be made just yet.