BOSTON (CBS) – Just one week ago, the Boston Red Sox and Will Middlebrooks had a bit of a scare when it came to the third baseman’s right wrist.
Middlebrooks left a game last Wednesday against the Orioles after appearing to re-injure the same wrist ended his rookie campaign early in 2012.
But less than a week later, Middlebrooks is back to taking his monster cuts at the plate. On Tuesday night, he took Puerto Rico starter Nelson Figueroa deep in the second inning for his first homer of the spring on, what he called, one of his best swings of the spring.
“It felt good to hit a ball hard,” Middlebrooks told WBZ NewsRadio 1030′s Jonny Miller after the 4-3 win. “My first at-bat this spring I hit one hard but I hadn’t had good contact since then. It felt good to see a curveball early, sit back, and hit it hard.”
Middlebrooks was on pace for a 30+ home run, 110+ RBI rookie season last year until an Esmil Rogers 96-mph fastball broke his wrist and ended his campaign after just 75 games. But the 24-year-old said he was 100-percent mid-way through the off-season, and now just needs to jump over the mental hurdle that comes with taking a fastball inside.
“I just have to get over it mentally; thinking about it and worrying about it,” he said. “I’m going to be sore and I’m going to have soreness and tightness — that’s what happens after an injury like that. I just have to get over it mentally.”
“I’m not really thinking about being hit, It’s just taking my normal swing on a pitch inside,” explained Middlebrooks. “It takes a little more wrist and a little more hands to stay through that ball. That’s just something I’m trying to get over and, mentally, be all there.”
Middlebrooks hopes to be in his Spring groove within the next week or two, and getting his timing back is now his main concern.
The third baseman is expected to bat in the middle of what could be a very potent Red Sox lineup this season. Newcomer Mike Napoli also homered Tuesday night against Puerto Rico, and Middlebrooks sees the 2013 Sox lineup as one that can do some damage with their power.
“The sky is the limit really, the lineup 1-9 is going to hit for some pop,” said Middlebrooks. “We have some speed, but I think we’re going to hit for some power.”