Boston Red Sox: Will Middlebrooks

Pete Frates takes Ice Bucket Challenge

August, 14, 2014
Former Boston College baseball captain Pete Frates, the man who inspired the social media phenomenon that has raised awareness -- and nearly $6 million -- for ALS, on Thursday took the Ice Bucket Challenge himself at Fenway Park.

Along with Red Sox manager John Farrell, third baseman Will Middlebrooks and members of his family, Frates, whose battle with ALS has left him in a wheelchair and unable to speak, was doused in ice water like thousands before him to aid in finding the cure.

Frates had previously passed on taking the challenge himself, writing on his Facebook page that “ice water and ALS are a bad mix,” but on Thursday decided to take the plunge while sitting in a chair in front of the Green Monster in left field.

After the challenge, Farrell nominated good friend and Indians skipper Terry Francona and Yankees manager Joe Giarardi to take the challenge themselves.

Middlebrooks continues PawSox rehab stint

July, 19, 2014
BOSTON -- While Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino returns to the lineup Saturday night, rehabbing third baseman Will Middlebrooks could still be days away from making his way back to Boston.

Having his rehab assignment clock restarted during the All-Star break, Middlebrooks could hypothetically spend 19 more days with Triple-A Pawtucket as he continues to recover from a fractured right index finger that has shelved him since May 17.

"He'll continue to play every day at third base at Pawtucket," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "I think the one thing that we want to be sure of that will continue is to get every day at-bats. For the time being that will take place at Pawtucket."

Farrell originally suggested on Friday that Middlebrooks could be activated before the team takes off on a seven-game road trip Monday.

However, with a crowded left side of the infield at the major league level, Farrell made it clear that the team will continue to prioritize consistent playing time for Middlebrooks before his activation. In nine games with Pawtucket since the start of July, Middlebrooks has hit safely in seven contests (7-for-29) with a home run and five RBIs.
BOSTON -- The Red Sox are expected to activate outfielder Shane Victorino prior to Saturday night's game against the Royals, though manager John Farrell said the team will evaluate the right fielder earlier in the day before making a final determination.

Victorino played seven innings in right field for Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday, going 1-for-4 with a double in his second straight day in action.

“Vic came out of his game after seven innings, four at-bats," Farrell said Friday after his Red Sox rallied for a 5-4 win over the Royals. "We’re going to check him here tomorrow before we make any kind of roster move just to insure that he’s OK after the full night."

Victorino has been limited to just 21 games for the Red Sox this season, with a .242 batting average, one home run and 10 RBIs. His last game for Boston came on May 23 at Tampa when he reinjured his hamstring. During his rehab, he suffered a few setbacks with his hamstring and back.

"We've missed his energy, we've missed his talents," Farrell said. "His in-game decisions, his instincts on the basepaths. We've missed a very good player for a majority of the year. That being said, we're very much looking forward to him getting back. We recognize that there's been a couple of start-and-stops along the way, so what kind of production he gives us immediately remains to be seen."

Prior to his 3-for-8 performance for the PawSox on Thursday and Friday, Victorino had gone 1-for-30 during his minor league rehab stints with Single-A Lowell and Pawtucket. After Thursday's game, he admitted it was the best he's felt on the field all season, but he realizes the production may not be immediate once he's activated.

Will Middlebrooks, who has been on the disabled list with a fractured finger and sore wrist, played third base for the PawSox on Friday. Farrell believes Middlebrooks isn't too far behind Victorino.

"I wouldn't say that they're tied to one another," Farrell said. "We're hopeful Will has fully healed over the things he's been battling -- the wrist, the finger -- and he gets back to us as a productive player. I can't tell you sitting here right now that that would be tomorrow."

Farrell did say it's a possibility Middlebrooks would be activated before the Red Sox leave for their next road trip Sunday night. With both Middlebrooks and Victorino on the verge of returning, the Red Sox will need to make a pair of corresponding moves. Farrell said they're still trying to figure out the best scenario.

• Don't expect rookie catcher Christian Vasquez to sit too often the rest of the way. Farrell has veteran catcher David Ross working with starter Clay Buchholz tonight, and Ross will again start with Jon Lester on the mound Sunday, but Vasquez will get his share of starts.

"I wouldn't say every other [game]," Farrell said. "I like the fact that David has the ability to take the first game of a series, take our game plan, implement it and can also mentor Christian in that way as it works inside of a given series. Still not looking to break up [Ross] and Jon Lester -- that will be something that will be preserved as we go forward. That's the approach right now."

Victorino, Middlebrooks close to returning

July, 17, 2014
BOSTON -- In an ideal world, manager John Farrell said Thursday, the Boston Red Sox would get Shane Victorino and Will Middlebrooks back at the same time.

In an ideal world, that would be this weekend, when the Red Sox resume play after the All-Star break against the Kansas City Royals, a team with legitimate postseason aspirations.

But a couple of hurdles remain. Victorino, who was in Pawtucket on Thursday night, has to play in back-to-back games there, Farrell said, before the Sox would consider activating him.

Victorino expressed some hope before Thursday's game that he might be able to convince the Sox to accelerate the process.

"We need to get some '9's' under my belt and maybe it's one nine and hopefully I'm up there sooner than later," Victorino said. "I know John has said hopefully this weekend and every time we set out a number, or set out a timetable, there's always been a setback.

"For me, I'm not going to put a timetable on anything. I'm going out there [Thursday night] and I'll take one at-bat at a time, one game at a time and we'll decide and see how my body feels."

Victorino has played in just 11 games over the course of two rehab assignments, including four with short-season Lowell. He has just one hit in 30 at-bats.

Middlebrooks, meanwhile, said the fractured index finger on his throwing hand is no longer an issue. His second rehab assignment was shut down Sunday because the days over the break counted against that assignment, Farrell said. The clock starts again Friday, when he is scheduled to play for the PawSox.

Farrell said the club has shelved, at least for the time being, plans to see Middlebrooks play some left field.

"The intention, when Will resumes tomorrow, is to remain at third base," Farrell said. "If there's a point in time where we expose him to left field, that will probably take more discussion internally. When we had the intent prior, that was before Mookie [Betts] came up, before Vic was close to us. Third base will be the focus at this point."

Middlebrooks jammed his wrist last weekend, but remained in the game and sat out the next day just for precautionary reasons. He said it's not an issue.

Middlebrooks has played 17 games, all in Pawtucket, while on his two rehab assignments, posting a .232/.283/.339/.623 slash line.

"Will has been playing more regularly," Farrell said. "With Will, it's a matter of getting more consistent timing. Vic, it's a matter of getting him back on the field with any kind of consistency. Two different scenarios."

Middlebrooks said he has had very little conversation with the Sox regarding their plans.

"I know I'm going to play tomorrow," he said. "Beyond that, I don't know. Hopefully, the third time will be the charm.

"I felt really good. The only time I feel anything is when I hit the ball off the end of the bat.

"I feel comfortable. Now it's just being more consistent. ... It's been so long since I played full games other than the last few days. I've got to get back out there and stay healthy.

Middlebrooks said getting healthy and returning to third base were his priorities. Playing the outfield was something he considered for "down the road."

"That's fine with me," he said when relayed Farrell's remarks about playing third base. "I'm a third baseman. But if they need me [in left], that's something I can do."

Joe McDonald contributed to this report.

Middlebrooks, Dell set to tie knot

July, 15, 2014
Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks and former NESN reporter Jenny Dell are engaged.

Dell broke the news on Twitter with the tweet below along with a photo of her ring and video of the couple's engagement party.

Middlebrooks broke his right index finger May 16 and has yet to return to the team.

Dell left NESN earlier this year and is now an NFL reporter for CBS.

Middlebrooks not close to return

July, 9, 2014
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.
BOSTON -- After a back injury last week shut down his rehabilitation from a hamstring injury, outfielder Shane Victorino appears to be improving again. Farrell said Victorino could get some live action sometime in the middle of next week's series against the Chicago White Sox, which begins on Monday. Victorino has been out since May 24 with his hamstring injury.

"He's improving. Running, the agility work, the number of swings in BP, that all continues to increase," Farrell said.

Will Middlebrooks and Mike Carp are both in Pawtucket on Saturday, with Middlebrooks at DH and Carp in left field.

"We want to get him regular at-bats," Farrell said of Carp, who's been out since June 2 with a fractured right foot. "As we talked on Thursday, the off day, we felt like everyday at-bats through the weekend was a good point in time to reassess and see where we go from there."

With Middlebrooks -- who's been out since May 17, after fracturing his right finger trying to field a line drive from Detroit's Ian Kinsler -- it's been a careful process, though Farrell says the swelling has finally gone down.

"I think finally the swelling has been resolved to a point where it's not affecting his throwing," Farrell said. "That was more of the caution than anything -- if that was going to alter any arm slot or any changes to his throwing stroke, does it show up in his elbow or his shoulder? We were just trying to be careful of that."

Victorino stuck in neutral; Betts still raking

June, 21, 2014
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Outfielder Shane Victorino (right hamstring strain) will be out of the lineup for Triple-A Pawtucket for the third straight game Saturday night, and the Red Sox's hopes of having him back during the West Coast stretch of their road trip has all but disappeared.

"He'll have another day of treatment," manager John Farrell said. "He'll re-engage with BP tomorrow and that's where we are right now. I wouldn't categorize it as a setback."

When Farrell was asked about recently signed veteran outfielder Andres Torres' progress, he said he didn't have "a real update" to offer. "I know Mookie Betts is swinging the bat well," Farrell added, smiling.

Betts is batting .324 with 12 RBIs, two home runs, three doubles, one triple and four stolen bases in 17 games since being promoted to Pawtucket from Double-A Portland. He's reached base safely in all 17 games. In his past five games, he's gone 10-for-23, including a two-run, walk-off single Friday night in a 3-2 win against Wilkes-Barre.

How fast could Betts get to Boston?

"I don't know," Farrell said. "The fact that he's in Triple-A, he's clearly on the radar, and the fact that he continues to swing the bat with some consistency ... Timeframe, no indication to it. He's doing everything he can, though, to put himself on that track."

Betts was drafted in the fifth round in 2011 as a second baseman, but he's now also playing in the outfield.

"We're not ready to anoint him a regular center fielder or a regular outfielder, but his athleticism certainly plays there."

• First baseman/outfielder Mike Carp (broken right foot) has started to "jog lightly" and hit off a tee, but he's not ready to go on a rehab assignment, Farrell said. Carp went on the 15-day disabled list on June 2, retroactive to June 1.

• Third baseman Will Middlebrooks (fractured right index finger) is making solid progress during his rehab assignment at Triple-A Pawtucket, Farrell said. "Timing is becoming more and more consistent with each passing day. While he still has some soreness in the finger, he's getting back to more game speed and game activity."

Buchholz goes 4 2/3 in first rehab start

June, 14, 2014
BOSTON -- Making his first rehab start with Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday afternoon, Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz showed that he might not be ready to return to the major league rotation just yet.

Facing the Charlotte Knights (Chicago White Sox affiliate) with a plan in place to go five innings, Buchholz made it through only 4 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on four hits, including two solo home runs. He threw 62 pitches, 42 for strikes, striking out five and walking none.

The start was Buchholz's first since May 26, when he walked eight Atlanta Braves in three innings pitched. He was placed on the disabled list with a hyperextended left knee two days later.

In the same game Saturday, rehabbing outfielder Shane Victorino (hamstring) went 0-for-2, playing five innings in right field, and third baseman Will Middlebrooks (finger) went 1-for-3 with a strikeout while serving as the designated hitter.

Middlebrooks starts rehab stint

June, 13, 2014
PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- Relentless.

Will Middlebrooks wore that word across his chest when he met with the media pregame Friday at sodden McCoy Stadium, where he’s due to start a rehab stint with the PawSox. It’s also a fitting description of the Red Sox third baseman’s past two seasons.

As in, the injury woes have been relentless.

Middlebrooks has missed more than two dozen Red Sox games since fracturing his right index finger in a game against the Tigers last month -- his second DL stint of 2014. The 25-year-old has missed more than twice as many games (44 and counting) as he’s played (21) this season.

“It’s been a long two years,” he said. “I’ve been lucky enough to be blessed with great teammates, and I’ve had a lot of help to get through it all. I know I’ve said it before, but hopefully this is it [and] I can move forward from here and string together some consistent days on the field.”

The finger is still clearly swollen and he hasn’t regained full range of motion, but Middlebrooks says he can see it healing.

“It’s about half the size it was,” he said. “We’re just working on flexibility and getting it straightened out. Luckily it’s my top hand, so I can just leave it off the bat if I need to. Throwing is gonna be my biggest test.”

He’s thrown the past couple of days, and said that while there’s still discomfort he hopes to play third for Pawtucket on Saturday.

“It’s pretty sore,” he said. “But what can you expect? It’s only been three weeks.”

As for a timetable on a return to Boston, Middlebrooks said he hadn’t discussed that with the powers that be yet. For now, he’s got more immediate goals.

“Well, I haven’t seen a whole lot of pitching this year,” he said. “I’ve played like 20 games. So I need to get timing, I need to just get comfortable and get in a rhythm here. Defensively, offensively, just baseball in general. That’s my goal right now.

“There’s no timetable set on, you know, six games, 15 games. I gotta get healthy, I need to get in a rhythm.”

He was hitting .197/.305/.324 with 2 HRs and 9 RBIs when he landed on the DL last month.

With the Sox offense scuffling, ranking 13th in the American League in runs only a season after running away with the scoring lead, Middlebrooks said there’s added frustration being sidelined.

“Well, I don’t like to sit on the side and not be able to help out, but they’ll be fine,” he said. “They’re a good group of guys, they work hard and there’s a lot of talent there. So there’s a lot of baseball left.”

Middlebrooks just hopes he can finally get healthy enough to prove that word -- relentless -- applies to his approach in the batter’s box and not his battle with the injury bug.

Jack McCluskey is an editor for and a frequent contributor to Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.

Drew has scheduled night off

June, 3, 2014
CLEVELAND -- Some quick hits from Cleveland:

* Stephen Drew is sitting out in his second game back with the Red Sox. That was the plan all along, said manager John Farrell, who had Jonathan Herrera at short Tuesday. Drew went 0-for-2 with a walk Monday. He handled every chance hit his way, started two double plays and was in the middle of another.

* Left-hander Felix Doubront, happy with the way he threw in a bullpen session Monday, will begin a rehab assignment with a start Thursday in Double-A Portland.

* Catcher-first baseman Ryan Lavarnway underwent surgery to remove the hamate bone from his left wrist. Dr. Thomas Graham of the Cleveland Clinic performed the surgery. Farrell said typical recovery is 5-7 weeks before a player can resume baseball activity.

* While Shane Victorino (hamstring) has begun running, Farrell said it is still too early to say when he will be sent out on a rehab assignment.

* Third baseman Will Middlebrooks (fractured finger) remains in an “inactive” period, Farrell said, while waiting to regain full range of motion in the finger.

* Farrell said “you can’t rule out” the possibility that infielder-outfielder Mookie Betts could be summoned at some point this season to help the major league team. Betts was promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket Tuesday, and the plan for him at the outset, Farrell said, is to play second base there.

Eventually, however, Farrell expects Betts also to be used in center field, where he had played a handful of games for Portland.

“A positional fit defensively is going to be part of this,’’ Farrell said of Betts’s big-league prospects. “It’s exciting to see a young player who this time a year ago was in the South Atlantic League. He’s moving quick.

“A player tells you when he’s ready for the next challenge, and his performance at Double-A suggests that. He’s doing some things offensively that are eye-popping, when you see how productive and consistent he’s been.’’

Betts, 21, started the 2013 season with Greenville in the lower Class A South Atlantic League before being promoted to high Class A Salem of the Carolina League, where he hit .341 with 22 extra-base hits and 20 stolen bases in 51 games.

Both Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogaerts were promoted to the big leagues a year after starting a season in Class A Salem.

Farrell restores Pedroia to 3-hole

May, 23, 2014
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Red Sox manager John Farrell rolled out his 38th different batting order in 47 games Friday night against the Tampa Bay Rays, but indicated that restoring what was the heart of the order in 2013 -- Dustin Pedroia No. 3, David Ortiz cleanup, Mike Napoli No. 5 -- may have some permanency to it.

Third baseman Brock Holt, who led off on April 21 against the Orioles and went 2-for-4 with a sacrifice fly, was back in the top spot Friday night, followed by rookie Xander Bogaerts, who hit in the 2-spot in four straight games in mid-April (3-for-14, HR) but was subsequently dropped lower in the order.

Bogaerts hit regularly in the 2-hole in the minors last season, and has been the team's hottest hitter of late, reaching base in each of the team's last 10 games (.378/.425/.676 slash line, with three doubles, two home runs and a triple). He is batting .500 (9-for-18) in his last five games. Napoli, who had two hits and a walk Tuesday night against Toronto, had missed the last two games of the Jays' series with flu-like symptoms. "It came on me quick," he said, "And it hit like a ton of bricks."

With Pedroia slotted third and Ortiz and Napoli dropped back a spot apiece, Farrell said the Sox succeed in lengthening their lineup, which he hopes will help rejuvenate an offense that scored a total of 13 runs on the recently completed homestand and posted a .228/.281/.332/.613 slash line while losing all six games in the Fens, extending their current losing streak to seven games.

The Sox held a lead in just one of 54 innings while at home. They had lost only six times after taking a lead (15-5 when they score first), and are 18-1 in games in which they've led by two runs.

Farrell noted that it was just a couple of days ago that he was praising Pedroia's performance as leadoff man, but now says he may use Bogaerts as leadoff man against left-handers, with Shane Victorino batting second and Pedroia third.

"It runs counter to our intent to create continuity," Farrell said of the frequent lineup shuffling. "That has been hard and frustrating to get to, because of some of the inconsistencies we've experienced."

The 5-hole in the lineup has been one of the team's most unstable, as Farrell has cycled six players through that spot.

A couple of other notes:

• Right-hander Brandon Workman was scratched from his start for Pawtucket on Friday, Farrell said, giving the Sox the option of summoning him to start here Sunday in place of the disabled Felix Doubront. Allen Webster, who is scheduled to start Sunday for the PawSox, is another possibility, but Workman would appear to be the nominee to come here.

• Left-hander Doubront (shoulder strain) has begun some light tossing.

• Third baseman Will Middlebrooks remained back in Boston. He underwent additional testing, Farrell said, to measure how much healing has taken place in the avulsion fracture of his left index finger.

• Reliever Burke Badenhop has not allowed an earned run in his last 18 1/3 innings.

Middlebrooks quiet on Drew signing

May, 22, 2014
BOSTON -- It’s been two days since the Red Sox announced the re-signing of Stephen Drew, and third baseman Will Middlebrooks still doesn’t want to talk about it.

Seemingly the odd man out, as Drew will man shortstop after a rehab assignment and rookie Xander Bogaerts is expected to shift to third base, Middlebrooks said he wants to stay away from talking about the situation. Middlebrooks was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured finger on May 17.

Wearing a heavily-wrapped splint on his right index finger Thursday in order to help straighten out the bone, Middlebrooks said he wasn’t told how long the injury could keep him out. Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington said Tuesday that the injury would take “weeks, not days.”

Cherington also didn’t rule out the idea of Middlebrooks changing positions in order to get his bat in the lineup once he returns. Primarily a third baseman, playing 185 of his 188 career games at the position, Middlebrooks also has major league experience at second and first base. With Dustin Pedroia and Mike Napoli holding down those spots, respectively, a move to the outfield would seem to be the most likely option if any move is made.

Cherington made it clear that the team still has faith in Middlebrooks.

“We know that when he’s healthy and doing the things he’s capable of, there aren’t many third basemen in the big leagues that can do what he does,” Cherington said. “So we’re absolutely committed to try and help him and he’s committed to getting to that point.”

Cherington added: “Obviously he wants to be in the big leagues, he wants to play. We’ve just got to get him healthy first and get him going.”

Middlebrooks scratched with sore hand

May, 11, 2014
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Will Middlebrooks was a late scratch from Sunday's lineup with the Red Sox saying via Twitter that it was "for precautionary reasons due to soreness in his right hand" after being hit by a pitch Saturday night.

In Saturday's game, Middlebrooks took a pitch off his hand in the top of the eighth, drawing the training staff out of the dugout. He remained in the game.

Before Sunday's game, Red Sox manager John Farrell said Middlebrooks was sore but fine to play and was listed in the original version of the starting lineup posted in the team clubhouse, batting eighth and playing third base.

"He’s good to go. He’s a little bit sore from getting hit by the pitch, but don’t expect it to be a restriction today," Farrell said.

But the Sox changed course about a half-hour before game time.

Here's Sunday's revised lineup:

Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Shane Victorino, RF
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Napoli, 1B
Jonny Gomes, LF
A.J. Pierzynski, C
Xander Bogaerts, SS
Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Jonathan Herrera, 3B

John Lackey, RHP

Middlebrooks' clutch hit lifts Sox over Reds

May, 8, 2014
BOSTON -- It was the type of clutch situation that hitters dream about.

Eighth inning, bases loaded, the go-ahead run at third base and facing a pitcher, Cincinnati Reds reliever J.J. Hoover, who had already walked two and given up a hit without recording an out. This was the situation Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks found himself in on Wednesday night and he knew exactly how to approach the at-bat.

[+] EnlargeWill Middlebrooks
Jared Wickerham/Getty ImagesWill Middlebrooks celebrates after hitting a go-ahead RBI single in the eighth inning of Boston's 4-3 win over Cincinnati.
"He'd been throwing some balls, obviously," Middlebrooks said. "Figured he'd come right after me. He threw me some off-speed early for balls off the plate. Once it was full count, I knew he was going to come right at me with the heater. He didn't want to walk me in that situation."

Middlebrooks figured right as he lined a 93 mph fastball -- right down the middle of the plate from Hoover -- back into center field to drive in the winning run to help the Red Sox finish a two-game sweep of the Reds. The go-ahead hit was Middlebrooks's second of his career in the eighth inning or later (also May 16, 2013, against the Tampa Bay Rays).

"Settled in, got a pitch in the middle of the plate for the base hit up the middle," manager John Farrell said. "For his own confidence in that key spot, good to see him come through."

Prior to the at-bat, Middlebrooks had been mired in a month of May slump that had him hitting .130 (3-for-23) with only one RBI and eight strikeouts. Despite his recent struggles, Middlebrooks was happy with the approach he was taking at the plate, one that resulted in his second-highest total for walks in an entire month (five; career-high is 10 in August 2013) only seven games into the month.

"My approach is right where I want it to be, I'm swinging at what I want to swing at and taking what I want to take," he said. "There was a little hitch right there but that was just timing."

After catcher A.J. Pierzynski hit a ground-rule double that drove in Mike Napoli to tie the game at 3-3, Hoover, a right-handed reliever, opted to intentionally walk Jackie Bradley Jr. in order to face the right-handed Middlebrooks. In the at-bat, Middlebrooks laid off a tough 2-2 slider to draw the count full and get the chance two pitches later to drive in the winning run.

"I've been frustrated but regardless if you're 10-for-10 or 0-for-10, whatever, you're happy to contribute to a win any way possible," Middlebrooks said. "Just glad to get that run in."

Farrell was also glad to see his young third baseman come up with the big hit and get his team back to .500.

"Will's base hit, obviously the difference in this one," Farrell said. "It's good to see him come in at an opportune time."