(Photo: Dominic Cotroneo/WCSN)
Some players are willing to go further than others in their personal sacrifices in order to help their team succeed. ASU senior, and current third baseman, Jordan Aboites is one of those players and then some.
Used as a super utility player throughout his entire Sun Devil career, Aboites has played third base, second base and been used as both a starting and relief pitcher.
Aboites has begun the season as the starting third baseman, but his role is more likely to change at a moment’s notice than any other player on head coach Tracy Smith’s roster.
Despite Aboites having experience as both a starter and reliever, in a young season where Friday starter Hever Bueno has been a question mark since leaving his Opening Night start with an arm injury and inconsistency in the bullpen, Smith believes that using Aboites in either role could hurt the team more than help it.
“We think when we take him off [third base] it totally changes the makeup of not just one position, but our plan would be to move [David] Greer [from first base] over to third, so you’re moving two people around,” Smith said. “I think we’ll see that evolve over the first month or so of the season. The reality of it is I would love to have it where we didn’t need him as much but I don’t know that we’re going to have that luxury.”
Aboites started the 2015 season as the double play partner of shortstop Colby Woodmansee, but quickly gave way to freshman Andrew Snow when he struggled offensively out of the gate.
In 37 games with just 22 starts, Aboites only managed a .200 batting average with eight RBI. After struggling out of the gate this season, his approach still remains ready to fill whatever role Smith needs him to.
“Last year obviously I was kind of more of a role guy, I played third and second and came in to pitch out of the bullpen,” Aboites said. “I think he knows I’m just on my toes ready for anything.”
Aboites has always been heralded as a top-notch defender that can make up for his offensive woes at times, but he’s had an uncharacteristic stretch to begin the season, already having totaled three errors in 24 chances.
Still, whatever role Aboites might have on the field, he remains equally as important off of it, being one of only four seniors on a team with a large influx of young, inexperienced freshmen and sophomores.
Even with the departure of long-time leadership players such as Trever Allen and Jake Peevyhouse, and with younger players expected to be sliding into prominent roles in the starting lineup, Aboites knows that the experience of the upperclassmen will be critical to the development of the new players.
“I think we have some good leaders, some older guys that are really taking the young guys under their wing. We have a lot of young talent so I’m really looking forward to them filling in,” Aboites said. “It’s a really close team as usual. I’ve had some close teams since I’ve been here, but this team is a little different just because it’s kind of more like the big brother role.”
One area of the team that will not be dependent on senior leadership will be Aboites and his infield companions in Woodmansee, Snow, and Greer. The fact that all four have defined roles continues be a major boost for Smith knowing he has stability both offensively and defensively.
Despite the overall slow start to the year for Aboites, Smith’s confidence in the senior has never wavered.
“I’ll still say that I think he’s one of the best third basemen in the country,” he said.