By BRENDAN McGAIR
BOSTON â€“ Even a season-ending wrist injury hasnâ€™t completely dampened Will Middlebrooksâ€™ spirit.
There was Middlebrooks on Tuesday afternoon, stationed at third base during batting practice as Boston third-base coach Jerry Royster sent groundball after groundball in the playerâ€™s direction. All appeared normal until Middlebrooks took the ball and gently flipped it off to the side.
â€śI went out early and took about 150 groundballs. Jerryâ€™s my man,â€ť said Middlebrooks following Bostonâ€™s 5-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night. â€śThe main focus is to work on my hand-eye (coordination) and picking the ball.â€ť
The contraption that covers Middlebrooksâ€™ right wrist serves as a constant reminder as to how his rookie season ended â€“ in premature fashion. In another light, the injury he sustained Aug. 10 against Cleveland has allowed the 23-year-old to see the game from a different perspective â€“ one that Middlebrooks fully intends to use to his advantage.
â€śEven though Iâ€™m not playing, I can still learn so much just by seeing how these guys go about their business every day,â€ť Middlebrooks said. â€śThese are my teammates and my family and I want to be able to do something that helps us win. Iâ€™m not saying that I always can, but I want to contribute and give my effort just to help us win.â€ť
Off the field, Middlebrooks is just as active in making sure his brain remains sharp.
â€śMy normal routine is to come in, find out who the starter is and go watch video. I still need to know these guys for down the road. During the game, Iâ€™ll go underneath the tunnel and watch them on TV to see the movement on the pitches,â€ť Middlebrooks said. â€śUnfortunately Iâ€™m hurt right now, but whatâ€™s good for me is that I can sit off to the side and discuss the game. Whoever has an off day, Iâ€™m excited to sit next to and pick his brain a little bit and just do what I can to get better.â€ť