CLEVELAND -- Third base, where Mike Aviles was stationed for the second straight night on Saturday, is an old familiar position for him. He logged 164 games there in the Minor Leagues, mostly in 2006 for Triple-A Omaha.
When he and Wilson Betemit switched positions on Friday night -- Betemit going to second base -- it was just the 13th Major League game at third for Aviles. Oddly, he didn't get a single ball hit to him.
"Maybe they were trying to hide me," he said, laughing.
Second base was more foreign to Betemit. Middle infield wasn't new because he signed as a shortstop but he'd played just 18 games at second base in his entire pro career before Friday night -- including 17 games in the Majors. The last time was in 2008 for the Yankees and the most action there was 10 games in '06 for the Braves.
"The first time was real difficult," Betemit said, "but now it feels good. For me, it's not a problem. The thing that I have to practice every day is the double play with the shortstop. Because sometimes the runner is right there and you have to be quick."
In Saturday night's 7-1 loss to the Indians, Betemit did have trouble with a relay on the pivot -- his throw pulling Kila Ka'aihue off first base to miss a double play. Betemit fielded two ground balls cleanly and got outs, but was charged with a marginal error when Asdrubal Cabrera's high hopper glanced off his glove.
Third base is more of a test than second base for Aviles' throwing arm; he had reconstructive elbow surgery last year and missed much of the 2009 season. So far, though, he's able to throw from any spot on the infield with no problem.
"It's night-and-day," he said. "I felt like I was throwing grenades across the infield in Spring Training. Now I can throw the ball with a little straightness which is what you want to happen."
In Saturday night's game, Aviles finally got one ground ball and easily threw out Jayson Nix. He also tagged out Shin-Soo Choo trying to steal third.