Middlebrooks not close to return

BOSTON -- With seven games (including one Wednesday night) under his belt since restarting his rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket July 1, Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks (finger) still seems to be far removed from a return to Boston.

General manager Ben Cherington said the team continues to prioritize getting Middlebrooks at-bats before testing him in the outfield, as manager John Farrell indicated the team would like to do.

“We’ve talked to him a little bit about starting to move around. Because of the rehab, he hasn’t been able to do a lot of that yet,” Cherington said. “We’re just trying to get him comfortable at the plate again and get him at-bats. He needs to play, he needs to get at-bats.

“That’ll be the focus. We don’t know yet exactly where those at-bats will come, but he needs to play [and] he needs to be in the lineup.”

Including Wednesday, Middlebrooks has made three starts at third since returning to action. His first six games back have seen him go 5-for-19 with a home run and three RBIs.

Middlebrooks was placed on the 15-day disabled list May 17.