Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Wacha, Middlebrooks Texas HS rivals
By Kyle Brasseur, Special to ESPNBoston.com
BOSTON -- Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks will be the first one to tell you that he’s not one to lay down a bunt.
In 660 major league plate appearances, the 25-year-old has laid down one sacrifice bunt, a grounder to the pitcher that resulted in moving the game-winning run to third against the Minnesota Twins in the 10th inning of a May 17 game this year.
However, with the World Series about to begin Wednesday night, there’s a more controversial bunt being discussed at Fenway Park, one that took place years ago in the city of Texarkana, Texas.
Or did it take place?
“I don’t remember bunting. He might just be messing with you guys,” Middlebrooks said.
The he in this scenario is St. Louis Cardinals Game 2 starter Michael Wacha, NLCS MVP and, perhaps more importantly, high school rival of fellow Texan Will Middlebrooks.
“I think he tried bunting off me,” Wacha said of Middlebrooks. “I don’t know why ... probably because he knew he couldn’t get a hit off me.”
Of the three high school located on the Texas side of Texarkana, Middlebrooks attended Liberty-Eylau High School and was two grades above the 22-year-old Wacha, who attended Pleasant Grove High School (the third school, Texas High, was attended by New England Patriots backup quarterback Ryan Mallett, also 25). Both were baseball standouts, Middlebrooks as a shortstop and Wacha as a pitcher.
“I knew he was good,” Middlebrooks said of Wacha. “He has always been a good pitcher, he was always the guy who utilized all three pitches. It seemed like he never threw balls in the middle of the plate.”
“He was always the best player out there, an unbelievable player,” Wacha said of Middlebrooks. “He was one of those guys everyone really looked up to.”
Now, the two are once again facing off against each other in the World Series, bringing a buzz to the Texas city with a population of around 37,000.
“They’re pretty happy that at least a ring will be coming back there,” Wacha said.
Whether Middlebrooks or Wacha will be the one to bring the ring back will be decided shortly as the winner of the World Series will be decided in the coming days. For now though, the debate in Boston rages over whether or not Middlebrooks did indeed lay a bunt down against Wacha while the two played together growing up.
“I really don’t remember that but I’ll ask him [Tuesday night],” Middlebrooks said. “I don’t know if it’s because I couldn’t hit him. I’m not ever going to say that.”