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.
If it were up to him, Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson would finish the remainder of his career in Toronto. In fact, he’d be “ticked pink” if the club decided to sign him to a long-term deal. Whether the Blue Jays share that sentiment is still unclear, as Donaldson said Saturday that the team has yet to engage his agent in extension talks.
“I’ve said that I wanted to be here,” he told MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm. “That’s pretty much all I can say. I’m not the one who makes the decisions, nor would I try to put them in the position to do that. Like I said, I believe the situation will become more fluid when the time is right.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean an extension is out of the question. The Blue Jays reached an unprecedented one-year, $23 million agreement with the three-time All-Star in arbitration, and have been reticent to field trade offers despite continued interest from the Cardinals this winter.
Donaldson, 32, is poised to enter his eighth season in the majors and fourth with the Blue Jays. In 2017, he batted .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs and a .944 OPS in 496 plate appearances, ranking sixth among all major league third baseman with 5.0 fWAR. He’s scheduled to enter free agency following the 2018 season.