CLEVELAND: According to two of baseball’s most trusted statistics, Mike Aviles is one of the last players anyone would want on his team.
His career on-base percentage is a mediocre .307 and his OPS is a sleep-inducing .714. Moreover, this season he’s even worse. Heading into Saturday night’s game against the Twins, Aviles had a dreary .299 on-base percentage with a .696 OPS.
So why has he been such a valuable player for the Indians?
“If a general manager is going to put together a team, he’s not going to get nine guys with a low OPS,” manager Terry Francona said Saturday. “But when you have a guy who can play short, second, third, left and right, who hits right-handers and left-handers, who can lay down a bunt, steal a base and hit a fastball, you can kind of push aside that OPS.”
Aviles has been filling in for injured shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. Usually, weaknesses of bench players are exposed when they play ever day. That hasn’t happened with Aviles.
“It’s hard to find a shortstop who can play every day who isn’t playing every day,” Francona said.
Aviles is batting .273 with four home runs, 23 RBI, 25 runs and five steals in six attempts.
“You don’t just look at one stat where a guy is below the league average,” Francona said. “You look at the nine or 10 things he does well.”
Aviles played for Francona in Boston, so it’s no coincidence that he signed with the Tribe.
“I thought about him right away,” Francona said. “It was not an accident that we got him.”
Nick Swisher (sore shoulder) was not in Saturday night’s lineup.
“I talked to him last night,” manager Terry Francona said. “He was not going to play Saturday night and in a day game Sunday. So why not push him back a day [from Saturday].
“Let’s play it by ear. He’ll take batting practice [today] and if he’s raring to go, he could play. If he needs one more day, that’s fine, too. But he’ll probably play [today].”
Swisher missed six consecutive games.
Is it likely that if Swisher takes one hard swing or puts great effort into one throw, the shoulder injury could recur?
“I could see it a little more with the throw,” Francona said. “But the swing, I would hope not.”
Zach McAllister (finger injury) will play long toss at 120 feet today then take the tape off his finger and begin the long toss progression all over again from 60 or 75 feet.
“He has to be completely free of symptoms when he rejoins the team,” Francona said.
When he’ll be back is unknown.
“We never put a timetable on it,” Francona said. “We honestly don’t know.”
Two more sign
The Indians signed two more players acquired in the June draft: left-hander Kyle Crockett, the fourth-round pick, and infielder James Roberts, taken in the 15th round.
Crockett, 21, was the stalwart of the University of Virginia bullpen, compiling a 4-1 record, 12 saves and a 1.68 ERA in 28 appearances. He struck out 68 and walked six in 52⅔ innings. Roberts, 21, played at USC.
Wahoo club meets
The next meeting of the Wahoo Club will be at 11 a.m. July 13 in the Terrace Club at Progressive Field. Special guest will be Mike Aviles. For information, call Bob Rosen at 440-724-8350 or log onto wahooclub.com.
Danny Salazar (1-2, 4.91 ERA) gave up three runs and four hits, striking out nine in five innings, as Columbus lost 4-2 to Lehigh Valley. … Tyler Naquin had three hits, including a double, and Jordan Smith homered and singled in Carolina’s 5-1 loss to Potomac. … Anthony Santander and Joe Sever homered, and Eric Gonzalez had two hits and two RBI, as Lake County beat Dayton 11-5. … Claudio Bautista homered, doubled and singled in Mahoning Valley’s 3-2 loss to Batavia.
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at email@example.com.