Will extra time with PawSox benefit Middlebrooks?
PAWTUCKET â€“ Based on the comments John Farrell made Wednesday, it wouldnâ€™t classify as a tremendous shock to see Will Middlebrooks remain with the PawSox beyond when heâ€™s eligible to come off the disabled list, which is Saturday.
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Position players are allotted a 20-day rehab window with Wednesday serving as Day Two of Middlebrooksâ€™ on-the-mend stint. During his weekly radio appearance on WEEI, Farrell mentioned that itâ€™s just not a matter of the third baseman shaking off the cobwebs after landing on the disabled list with a lower back strain.
In so many words, the Red Sox manager mentioned that there are some additional kinks that Middlebrooks needs to iron out, ones that may require more than three or four daysâ€™ worth of plate appearances. For a player that was slumping as badly as Middlebrooks was prior to landing on the shelf on May 24, a few extra days in the minors may go a long way in helping him get back on track.
Middlebrooks played the role of good solider when asked to weigh in on Farrellâ€™s comments prior to taking the field at McCoy Stadium Wednesday night, saying that whatever the team needs, heâ€™ll abide by the decision thatâ€™s rendered. To his credit, he was upfront about his struggles, ones that range from a low batting average (.201 in 46 games) to a low on-base percentage (.234) to a frequent strikeout rate (54 in 174 at-bats).
â€śWeâ€™re just trying to get things back on track. Iâ€™ve been grinding all year through some injuries and I just want to make sure everything is normal and just back to how I was pre injuries,â€ť Middlebrooks said. â€śOf course I want to be a better player; Iâ€™m not a .200 hitter. First and foremost, my health is the priority. Letâ€™s get that straight before we worry about anything else.â€ť
Pawtucket manager Gary DiSarcina knows that not all rehab assignments are created equal, and that appears to be the case with Middlebrooks. DiSarcina then drew upon Manny Ramirezâ€™ momentous rehab stay with the PawSox in 2002, one the skipper was privileged to witness up close.
â€śWhen David (Ortiz was with the PawSox in April), he had missed a lot of spring training. Each hitter is different. Some guys, they need their timing and see a lot of pitches,â€ť DiSarcina explained. â€śOnce Will feels comfortable that heâ€™s had enough at-bats and the organization feels comfortable, heâ€™s out of here.
â€śI was playing (with the PawSox) when Manny was down here, and Iâ€™m pretty sure he went 3-for-30 and wanted to stay. The ping pong table (in the home clubhouse) was a big deal,â€ť he added when the conversation shifted to the former Red Sox slugger before the topic once again was Middlebrooks. â€śFor Will, I donâ€™t think heâ€™s never done a rehab before. Itâ€™s individualized and if it takes an extra day, itâ€™s takes an extra day. We want to do whatâ€™s best for him.â€ť
New PawSox pitcher Brandon Workman was broached about instance that took place during a start with Double-A Portland on May 3 in New Britain. It was the bottom of the fifth inning and Workman had just surrendered a booming triple to the Rockcatsâ€™ Jason Christian that just missed going over the centerfield fence.
Instead of becoming unhinged, Workman fought back to strike out back-to-back hitters, relying on the same heavy fastball that Christian had figured out. Reminded about the moment, the 24-year-old product from the University of Texas described that in good times or bad, heâ€™s not about to change.
â€śMy fastball is the pitch where everything works off. Sometimes it does get hit, but thatâ€™s not going to stop me from throwing it,â€ť said Workman. â€śI just try to keep a level head about it and keep working.â€ť
Workman said he received word that he was being promoted to Triple A on Tuesday when he was called into Portland manager Kevin Bolesâ€™ office. His addition to Pawtucketâ€™s roster came the same day that pitcher Oscar Villarreal was granted his release.
â€śI kind of figured that (a summons to Pawtucket) would come at some point, but it was definitely a pleasant surprise,â€ť said Workman, who will make his PawSox debut this Saturday night in Syracuse.
A fourth-round pick of the Red Sox in 2010, Workman leaves Portland with an impressive 5-1 mark with a 3.43 ERA in 11 games (10 starts). He was part of a heralded Sea Dog pitching staff that includes Matt Barnes and Anthony Ranaudo.
â€śAll of those guys are throwing the ball well right now, but I look at this new opportunity as a challenge,â€ť stated Workman.
(Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03)