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BOSTON (CBS) – Will Middlebrooks homered for the Pawtucket Red Sox Wednesday night, but the recovering third baseman may remain in the minors longer than originally planned.
Middlebrooks was expected to play four games for Boston’s Triple-A affiliate before being activated off the disabled list, but manager John Farrell hinted Thursday that stay could be longer to let the struggling slugger work on his swing.
“[A chance] to get his timing back,” Farrell told reporters prior to Boston’s 3-2 loss to the Rangers on Wednesday. “But then also let’s use this as an opportunity to get a little momentum going before he comes back. We’re hopeful that that is sooner rather than later. Saturday is still the day in which he’s first eligible to be activated. It could very well be Saturday. It could be shortly thereafter.”
Middlebrooks struggled in Boston this season, batting just .201 to go with eight home runs and 21 RBI in 46 games played before he hit the DL with sore ribs.
Through two games with the PawSox Middlebrooks is 3-for-6 with 5 RBI, but Farrell is looking at much more than stats.
“This isn’t going to be based on batting average [at Triple-A],” he said. “I think it’s more important that as he was showing more consistently before the injury, the ability to drive the ball into right-center field. As we’ve talked many times over, that’s when he’s at his best. [He needs] to take his normal, natural approach and repeat it. That’s what we’re looking for.”
Letting Middlebrooks stay in Pawtucket is made a little easier by the stellar play of Jose Iglesias, who is batting .431 in 17 games with Boston this season. The converted shortstop is 16-for-38 in 11 games since taking over for Middlebrooks, and has yet to commit an error at third.