Now that they have locked up Mike Aviles for at least two years, what are the Indians going to do with him?
“He can play all over,” General Manager Chris Antonetti said Thursday. “We can use him at short, second or third. [Manager Terry Francona] has even talked about using him in the outfield.”
The Tribe avoided arbitration with Aviles by inducing him to sign a two-year guaranteed contract worth $6 million that includes a club option for 2015. Aviles made $2 million last year with the Boston Red Sox.
Aviles likely will be among a group of several players who spend part of the time at designated hitter. The Tribe did not replace full-time designated hitter Travis Hafner over the winter, though that could still happen.
Asked whether Aviles will be in the mix of designated hitter candidates, Antonetti said: “He could, depending on the day and the [pitching] matchup. We’re still open to [acquiring a designated hitter] if it’s a good fit, but we have alternatives already.
“It just depends on how our bench comes together. At times, one of our regulars could be the designated hitter, depending on the matchup on a particular day.”
It seems clear that no one player will log at-bats at designated hitter every day.
Francona has the option of using the designated hitter spot as a way to rest an everyday player, while a reserve fills in at his position.
Asked if Aviles is the best offensive option on the bench, Antonetti said: “He’s one of them. Ezequiel [Carrera] could also fit there, as well as some of our nonroster guys. We’ll be open-minded about it.”
Last year in 512 at-bats for the Red Sox (mostly playing shortstop), Aviles batted .250 with 28 doubles, 13 home runs and 60 RBI.
Also on Thursday, the Tribe signed veteran left-hander Rich Hill to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to major-league spring training camp.
Hill, who will be 33 in March, pitched in the Red Sox bullpen last year, compiling a 1-0 record and 1.83 ERA in 25 appearances. But he was limited to 19⅔ innings because of an elbow injury.
It won’t be easy for Hill to latch onto a bullpen job crowded with legitimate candidates, but Antonetti said he would have an opportunity to win a spot.
Hill has pitched in the big leagues for eight seasons with the Chicago Cubs, Baltimore Orioles and Red Sox.
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.