Red Sox Life welcomes back Mike Aviles

Jim Monaghan
Contributing writer

Mike Aviles was drafted in the 7th round by the Kansas City Royals in 2003. Eager to begin his professional playing career, he signed for just $1000. He made his Major League debut with the Royals 5 years later, collecting his first hit in Yankee Stadium on June 6 when he doubled into the right field corner. He was traded to the Boston Red Sox at the trading deadline in 2011 and spent the rest of that season and all of 2012 playing for Boston. In October 2012 he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for new Red Sox manager John Farrell and 13 days later, he received a phone call telling him he'd been traded to the Cleveland Indians where we was reunited with his former manager Terry Francona.

This weekend, Mike (pictured receiving a big hug from former teammate David Ortiz) made his first return to Fenway Park since the trade. Red Sox Life had a chance to speak with Mike about his career, what motivates him, playing for Terry Francona again, and trash talking with Dustin Pedroia.

Red Sox Life - You know that by being traded to Toronto for manager John Farrell, you're somewhat responsible for the early season success the Red Sox have enjoyed so far.
Mike Aviles - I've told that to Pedroia numerous times, so that this way, he understands. (laughs)

RSL - You and Pedroia seem to be cut from the same mold - the "don't tell me what I can do" type of player.
MA - Yeah, I've had to do it that way my whole life, and I'm pretty sure he's in the same boat. I know that in my personal situation I never was "good enough" to play at a certain level so I just always had that mentality with that chip on my shoulder. You're not going to tell me how good I am; I'll just go out there and I'll play and hopefully I can change your mind. I'm pretty sure he's right there along the same lines. I mean, I know he's a good ballplayer and he's been a good ballplayer forever but you look at him and he's not...physically you don't look at him and say, "You're going to be an MVP" or "You're going to be an All Star." It's his heart that most people don't get to see.

RSL - Do you have a favorite Pedroia story from playing with him?
MA - Every day was a different story, the way we were because we were kind of like big brother/little brother; we were always getting on each other for anything. I know there were numerous times where he was trying to trade me last season when people would get to second base. He was always telling them, "Hey, tell your manager let's trade Aviles for a box of balls and some broken bats."

RSL - Speaking of getting traded, you're with Toronto and less than two weeks later one of the first things your former manager and current Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona does is acquire you from the Blue Jays.
MA - That definitely made me feel good, and the opportunity to play for Tito again was just phenomenal. He knows me as a player...he knows me as a person...and I couldn't ask for anything better. Sometimes when you play for a new manager you have to go out and get a feel for that person, see how he is, and you have to show him how you are as a person as well as a baseball player. So there wasn't that period of me...not showing off...but showing what I can bring to the table. Tito already knows, so I was excited about that.

RSL - Francona seems much more relaxed than the last time we saw him as a manager. The year off had to be good for him.
MA - For sure. You watch him, and you see his demeanor...he's just laid back and having fun. Whether we're winning or losing, he just wants us to understand to trust ourselves.

RSL - Has he changed at all since the last time you played for him?
MA - No, he's still the same person. He enjoys the game, he's always prepared and he's one of those guys it's always good to be around. Everybody in the locker room feeds off his energy and his energy has always been positive. It was like that when I played for him in Boston. A lot of the guys on the team here are in awe of the fact that he is the way he is. They ask, "Is he normally like this?" and I tell them, "Yes, all the time...all get used to it."

RSL - Does anybody chew more bubblegum than he does?
MA - No chance. He singlehandedly keeps Dubble Bubble in business.

RSL - You have had the experience of going back to a city where you played before (Kansas City). How different was it coming back to Boston?
MA - It's been awesome. I wish the weather was a little bit better because everybody knows how beautiful a city Boston is. It's always fun to come back and see old teammates and just see the city again. Everybody knows that Boston has always been one of my favorite places to play as far as the park itself, and the organization was always great. They treated my unbelievably and I can't thank them enough.

RSL - You were included as part of the welcome back video Thursday night and Larry Lucchino referred to you as the "friendly Mike Aviles."
MA - (laughs) Well, I do have a pretty good personality, not to toot my own horn. I just get along with a lot of people.

RSL - You weren't in the lineup Friday night against John Lackey but as fans the biggest thing we can see is the change in Lackey, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz. What were your teammates saying about Lackey's performance?
MA - He was painting. Every single hitter said the same thing. He was hitting his spots...he was painting. And everybody knows how good Lackey can be. I'm sure everybody realized he had a messed up elbow and now he's getting back to the Lackey everybody knows he is. He's hitting his spots and he's giving the team a chance to win. That's all you can ask out of a starter and he's been doing a tremendous job as far as I can see.

RSL - You have the distinction of having a fake twitter account set up before you had a real one.
MA - That's why I have a real one (laughing). (@Themikeaviles)

RSL - The fake one fooled some of your teammates and even some of the Red Sox front office.
MA - Me too (laughing). I was like...wait a that mine? Did I make this and I don't remember it? (laughing)

RSL - Do you know there's a twitter account for your calves? (@AvilesCalves)
MA - Yeah, I do. It's definitely funny and it's a good picture too. It was taken by (WEEI's) Rob Bradford, one of the reporters here.

RSL - You've played five different positions so far this year. Are you shooting for all nine?
MA - I hadn't even realized that. I'd prefer not to be on the mound or behind the dish but if it turns out I play all the positions, that's kind of cool.

RSL - When was the last time you pitched, Little League?
MA - Probably in college...I don't even remember. I don't want to be on that mound. (laughs) It's a lonely mound...a lonely, lonely mound.

RSL - I think back to a conversation you and I had a few years ago when you were on your way to spring training with the Kansas City Royals. You had played at the AA level the year before and were being projected for AAA that season. You told me then that you simply knew you were going to play in the Majors.
MA - That's just the way I've always been. I've always told myself that I'm going to try and do anything I can to prove people wrong. I was fortunate to have that extra chip on my shoulder and do what I needed to do, and it's all worked out.

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