Just as I predicted a few weeks ago, Will Middlebrooks finally got the call from the Red Sox that he was waiting for.
After spending almost two months in the minor leagues with Pawtucket, Middlebrooks was back in the Sox’ starting lineup Saturday night playing third base.
Demoted on June 25th, Middlebrooks played in 45 games with the Pawtucket. He had a .268 avg. with 10 homers, and 35 RBI’s. The numbers weren’t really as important as Will getting healthy and feeling good about his swing again. His struggles to begin this year were only escalating as the Sox played into June, and an ailing back, and minor rib injury weren’t helping his cause. An average below the “Mendoza Line” and a BB/K ratio that would make any manager cringe is what Middlebrooks carried into the minors, and to his credit, he stayed positive through tough times and made it back to Boston.
In his diary he’s keeping for ESPNBoston.com, Middlebrooks stated, “I’ve mentioned consistency. For me, consistency is the difference between big-leaguers and minor-leaguers. While you have certain guys who stand apart, for the most part Double-A to most average big-league players have the same physical ability. It’s the mental side of the game that people can be inconsistent with and that can hold them down.”
That right there shows the steps in maturity Middlebrooks has made. People (including myself) expected Will to come out this season and just take off has a right-handed power threat for the middle of the lineup, but we forget how young and inexperienced the guy was. When your first 75 games in the bigs held nothing but success, struggling like he did earlier in the season can be eye-opening. I think what was more shocking to him was the demotion though. John Farrell & Co. knew what they were doing when sending him down, and even if Middlebrooks didn’t understand it then, he gets it now. Playing the game of baseball takes the obvious physical skills, but more so, it takes the mental fortitude to forget mistakes.
I was pumped to see him back in the lineup after weeks of the Brock Holt/Brandon Snyder/Jonathan Diaz misery. I’m not saying those guys won’t be solid big leaguers someday, but they just aren’t what the Sox needed at the 3B position during a heated pennant race. Middlebrooks returned, and immediately made an impact last night with a two-hit performance. He drove in a pair of RBI’s, and also scored twice while flashing some heady base-running scoring from first base both times.
One down, Bogaerts to go.