Mike Aviles was in upstate New York on Friday, visiting his family and celebrating the birthday of one of his children when he got an unexpected phone call.
It was one of his agents saying that the Red Sox were about to trade him to Toronto as compensation for manager John Farrell.
“I was shocked. I had to just process everything at first,” Aviles told the Globe on Monday. “At first you think about all the little things that are tough, like moving. But for me, all the little negatives don’t come close to outweighing the positives for me.”
Aviles is grateful that the Blue Jays want him and see him playing a significant role as a utility player or their second baseman.
“That’s all I want, an opportunity. Their GM [Alex Anthopoulos] was straightforward with me and I told him I appreciated that,” Aviles said. “They said I can play a lot and battle for at-bats at second base. That’s all I ask. Getting traded, I think, is a good thing because it shows that a team wants you.”
Aviles was traded to the Red Sox on July 30, 2011. He was around for the collapse that ended that season and the tumult that marked 2012.
“It was surprising for me and disappointing because when you join a team like the Red Sox, you expect that you’re going to win and you’re going to be in the playoffs,” he said. “But I honestly feel that it was one of those experiences that is going to make them stronger. Every team goes through struggles and championship teams learn from those.”
Aviles also was at the center of an incident in spring training that many felt helped contribute to Bobby Valentine having a rocky relationship with the veteran players this season.
During a standard fielding drill, Valentine chewed out Aviles for being in the wrong position, going after the good-natured infielder to a point where veteran players spoke up against it. A series of other incidents followed.
“I don’t know what the effect was on other people, but for me it was forgotten pretty quickly,” Aviles said. “In baseball, those things happen. It’s like a marriage, you’re going to have your fights. When you’re around people for so long, there are always going to be issues and you have to move past them. People butt heads and for me, it’s normal.
“It can be with players, coaches, mangers. Things happen. For me it wasn’t a major issue. Maybe it was for other people. I guess it was. I appreciated them having my back.”
Aviles said that contrary to reports that labeled the Red Sox having clubhouse turmoil, the players got along with each other.
“It was a band of brothers. We all got along and we hung out together. That part of it was fine,” he said. “The team had issues because of injuries and the new manager and things like that. But it was never an issue of the players not getting along. I think that stuff was overblown.”
With Aviles off to Toronto, the Red Sox will need a new shortstop. He believes rookie Jose Iglesias can handle the job.
“That kid is special. He does things in the field I’ve never seen anybody do and I know I can’t do,” Aviles said. “His hand-eye coordination in the field is amazing and it’s only a matter of time before that translates into hitting for him. It will happen.
“I like Jose a lot. I was planning to talk to him a lot in the winter and I still will. He can do the job and I hope they give him the chance. It’s fun to watch him play.”