Will Middlebrooks was just starting to find his swing before he strained his left calf muscle during pre-game warmups on April 5. The third basemen had racked up three hits and two runs scored in his previous two games, including a game tying home run in Boston’s home opener against the Milwaukee Brewers.
The BoSox struggled to replace the injured Middlebrooks, with Jonathan Herrera and Ryan Roberts initially splitting time at third base. Both struggled offensively, and after going 2 for 22 in eight games, Roberts was designated for assignment.
A hot start in AAA Pawtucket did not go unnoticed, and the Red Sox recalled 25-year old third basemen Brock Holt to try to get some offensive production out of the bottom part of their lineup. Holt preformed surprisingly well, owning a .348/.429/.435 line in his 7 games.
After a brief rehab assignment with Pawtucket, Middlebrooks returned to the major league club on Friday before the series opener against Toronto. In his first game back, Will made his presence felt immediately going 2 for 4 with two runs scored and an RBI. He also made a nice tag on Jose Bautista who was caught stealing by catcher A.J. Pierzynski in the fourth inning.
The Red Sox have been struggling to reach .500 in the first month of the season, and with Middlebrooks and Victorino both returning from the disabled list they now are playing with their projected starting lineup for the first time.
â€śFelt good to contribute,â€ť Middlebrooks said after the game. “Youâ€™re going to have tough patches and I think ours might have been early. Weâ€™ll be fine with this group of guys we have.”
Middlebrooks looked strong again on Saturday against the Blue Jays, belting a home run off Chad Jenkins during his second at bat in the third inning. He added a nice defensive play in the bottom of the sixth inning, and his glove will be greatly appreciated by a team that has already committed 19 errors.
2014 is looking to be a bounce back campaign for Middlebrooks, who had an up and down year between AAA and the majors last season. He has shown some impressive power early in his career, but has yet to find consistency with his approach at the plate. He has looked confident so far this season, and Boston hopes he can continue to establish himself as one of the best slugging third basemen in the American League.
Toronto may be the perfect venue for Will to find his groove, as some may remember his three home run game at Rogers Center last season: