3/15/2013 11:25 P.M. ET
Versatile Aviles clutch in Classic vs. Team USA
Utility player shows value for Tribe with two key hits in elimination game
By Zack Meisel / MLB.com
Vinnie Pestano might want to avoid Mike Aviles in the Indians' clubhouse for a while. With a pair of timely hits against the right-hander this week, Aviles earned bragging rights for the foreseeable future.
Hopeful that they will be playing meaningful baseball when the fall months arrive, the Indians added a handful of veterans over the winter. One of them, Aviles, demonstrated on Friday in Puerto Rico's 4-3 win over the United States that he isn't afraid of the spotlight in a pressure-packed situation.
Aviles delivered a two-out RBI single to provide his Puerto Rico squad a 1-0 lead in the first inning of Friday's elimination game against the United States. The poke to right field plated Giants outfielder Angel Pagan. It was the eighth RBI of the tournament for Aviles.
In the sixth, Aviles contributed to a Puerto Rico rally with a single to right field off Pestano. Aviles later scored on a two-run double by Andy Gonzalez.
In the United States' 7-1 victory against Puerto Rico on Tuesday, Aviles stroked a single to right field off Pestano.
The Indians acquired Aviles and catcher/utility man Yan Gomes from the Blue Jays in November for reliever Esmil Rogers. Aviles played 38 games in 2011 for the Red Sox under skipper Terry Francona, who now captains the Tribe. Last season with Boston, Aviles batted .250 with 13 homers and 60 RBIs.
Cleveland expects to employ Aviles around the infield and even in the outfield, if necessary. The versatile 32-year-old has played second, short, third, left and right field in his five-year big league career.
Pestano's outing on Friday marred what had been a solid showing for the 28-year-old during the Classic. Prior to Friday's appearance -- in which he surrendered two hits and two walks to the four batters he faced and was charged with two earned runs -- he had tossed a pair of scoreless innings and tallied two strikeouts.
With the win over the U.S., Puerto Rico advances to play the Dominican Republic in a seeding game on Saturday and into the semifinals at AT&T Park in San Francisco on either Sunday or Monday against Japan or The Kingdom of the Netherlands.