By BRENDAN McGAIR
BOSTON – Even a season-ending wrist injury hasn’t completely dampened Will Middlebrooks’ 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 player’s direction. All appeared normal until Middlebrooks took the ball and gently flipped it off to the side.
“I went out early and took about 150 groundballs. Jerry’s my man,” said Middlebrooks following Boston’s 5-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night. “The main focus is to work on my hand-eye (coordination) and picking the ball.”
The contraption that covers Middlebrooks’ right wrist serves as a constant reminder as to how his rookie season ended – 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 – one that Middlebrooks fully intends to use to his advantage.
“Even though I’m not playing, I can still learn so much just by seeing how these guys go about their business every day,” Middlebrooks said. “These are my teammates and my family and I want to be able to do something that helps us win. I’m not saying that I always can, but I want to contribute and give my effort just to help us win.”
Off the field, Middlebrooks is just as active in making sure his brain remains sharp.
“My 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, I’ll go underneath the tunnel and watch them on TV to see the movement on the pitches,” Middlebrooks said. “Unfortunately I’m hurt right now, but what’s good for me is that I can sit off to the side and discuss the game. Whoever has an off day, I’m excited to sit next to and pick his brain a little bit and just do what I can to get better.”