“I had numerous guys ask me, ‘What’s Tito like as a manager?’ I’d say, ‘I promise you, you’ll never want to play for anybody else.’ And it’s no disrespect to anybody else. That’s just the type of person Tito is. Once you play for a guy like Tito, you kind of get spoiled.”
Aviles, 32, also played with Francona in Boston during the team’s much-ballyhooed collapse in late 2011. After beginning his professional career with the Kansas City Royals, he was dealt to the Sox in a deadline deal that season. He batted .317 in 38 games down the stretch when Francona ended his Boston tenure with a 7-20 September run that led to no playoff appearance.
In the offseason, Francona was shown the door in Boston. With regular playing time, Aviles had a career season under one-year manager Bobby Valentine in 2012. This past offseason, Aviles then was traded for manager John Farrell to Toronto and, just two weeks later, was dealt again in the Esmil Rogers trade over to Cleveland. Francona had arrived the previous month, thus sparking the impromptu and excited manager-player reunion.
Aviles is batting .280 in 31 games this season with 5 doubles and 3 home runs. He has appeared in games at five different positions, with his flexibility greatly assisting the oft-injured and very surprising club so far.
Jacob Rosen is a long-time contributor to WaitingForNextYear. He's also a writer online at SportsAnalyticsBlog and Nylon Calculus . An Akron native, Jacob is a current MBA student at the University of Oregon's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. You can follow him on Twitter @WFNYJacob or e-mail him at udjrosen(at)gmail(dot)com.