DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The official decision hasn't been made. But the player who started at shortstop for the Red Sox on Sunday looks a lot like someone who is ready to take on that position for the start of the season on April 5 at Detroit.
Mike Aviles clubbed three hits -- two of them doubles -- in four at-bats against the Blue Jays. The utility infielder looks comfortable on defense as well, and has done everything manager Bobby Valentine has asked him to do in camp.
In the big picture, the Red Sox are probably best off with Aviles opening the season at shortstop, because that would give highly touted prospect Jose Iglesias a little more time to round out his development at Triple-A.
"Well, the whole spring, Mike's made all the plays at shortstop and hit the ball hard most every game he's played," said Valentine. "He looks like he's taken to the position like a duck to water."
Aviles has made solid contact throughout the Grapefruit League, with the only difference being that the hits are finding grass instead of gloves of late. He is hitting .333.
How much time does Aviles spend wondering if he will break camp as the starting shortstop?
"I don't even think of it, honestly," Aviles said. "I just come in to prepare for the season. As long as I'm taking good swings and making my plays, I know I'm preparing myself for the season when they need me. That's the bigger focus for me, is doing what I can do to make the plays and get the hits and get on base and help the team win. In all honesty, I haven't paid too much mind to that."
Aviles gets a little, well, defensive, when someone mentions to him that he looks good on defense.
"You guys [in the media] are the ones with the bigger question marks," Aviles said. "I don't really have a question that I can play short. I've always felt like I could play short. I feel comfortable, and I'm having fun."
Back stiffness prevents Youk from road trip
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Kevin Youkilis was originally scheduled to make Sunday's more than two-hour bus ride from Fort Myers to play the Blue Jays, but those plans changed when he developed back stiffness.
"He had three at-bats yesterday and had a little stiffness in his lower back, so he stayed back for treatment," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. "He'll get Minor League at-bats tomorrow, so he can get caught up with as many as he needs."
In the Minor League environment, Youkilis could bat in every inning, if that's what he and the Red Sox decide.
"Sometimes we've gone over there and said, 'Get eight at-bats,' and after about six, guys have really had enough. And Youk's at-bats are usually pretty extensive," Valentine said. "But he's not going to run around the bases. He's going to see pitches and have at-bats."
Youkilis is hitting .214 with no homers and two at-bats in 28 at-bats this spring.
Jenks issues apology to Red Sox
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Red Sox reliever Bobby Jenks, who was arrested for five misdemeanor charges early Friday morning, including DUI, issued a statement on Sunday expressing remorse for his actions.
"I am embarrassed by the situation and apologize to my teammates and to the Red Sox organization for any distractions I may have caused," said Jenks. "I still need to let the legal process run its course, and until it does, I will not be able to make any further comment."
Coming off multiple back surgeries during the winter, Jenks isn't expected to pitch for the Red Sox until at least June.
With Crawford out, spot up for grabs with Boston
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- While it is inevitable that Red Sox left fielder Carl Crawford (left wrist) will open the season on the disabled list, there is no telling who will wind up with his roster spot.
Cody Ross, Ryan Sweeney and Darnell McDonald will share the playing time in left and right fields. Catcher Kelly Shoppach and utility infielder Nick Punto are the reserves who are sure to make the roster. Manager Bobby Valentine has kept an open mind on what do regarding the other spot.
Lars Anderson, Jason Repko and Nate Spears are all under consideration. Valentine has also said the Red Sox could take 13 pitchers for a short time.
"That roster spot could be either a pitcher, a utility player, it could be an outfielder," Valentine said. "It could conceivably be anything we want it to be -- anything other than maybe a starting pitcher. A lot of guys are doing real well, and when it comes down to about a week from today, we'll make a determination on how to start to see something."