December 3, 2012 at 3:45 AM
Although the minor league season begins in April and ends in September, in reality, minor league baseball is a year-round enterprise. Following the end of the regular season and playoffs, minor leaguers participate in the Fall Instructional League, Arizona Fall League and various foreign winter leagues.
Fifty-two Red Sox minor leaguers, plus another five free agents who have not yet re-signed with Boston or signed elsewhere, have played in these fall or winter leagues since the end of the season. Each player has different goals. Often, players who miss time due to injury play in order to make up for missed reps. Others use winter leagues to get reps at a new position, such as last offseason when infielder Mike Aviles, thinking he would be used in more of a utility role, played in the outfield for a few weeks in Puerto Rico. Others are earning a bit of extra money -- the teams in the Caribbean Winter Leagues are legitimate professional circuits where teams pay players, have rabid followings and compete hard to win.
With the winter season about halfway over, follow this link to head over to ESPNBoston.com to see our recap of how the Sox contingent has performed so far.