By Scoop Fox
Murphy's Law states that "anything that can go wrong, will go wrong." When a baseball player is in a slump, it seems like the harder they try to break out of it, the deeper they get stuck. Such is the case for Boston Red Sox infielder, Will Middlebrooks, who was sent to Pawtucket after struggling mightily at the plate. However, the young infielder is approaching this demotion as an opportunity rather than a disappointment.
Will MiddleBrooks is no stranger to McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket. In 2011 he went 9-for-56 (.161) with 2HR, 8 RBI, OBP of .200, He produced a slugging percentage of .268 and OPS of .468 in 16 games in Triple-A. Last year, he played 24 games down in Pawtucket before getting called up to play in Boston. He went 31-for-93 (.333), had 9 HRs, 27 RBIs, scored 18 runs, an OBP of .380, slugging percentage of .677 and an OPS of 1.057.
MIddlebrooks' star continued to rise when he reached the parent club. In his rookie year, Middlebrooks played in 54 games for the Red Sox. He went 77-for-267 (.288) with 15 HRs, 54 RBIs, an OBP of .325, a slugging percentage of .509, and an OPS of .835. Though his season was cut short due to a wrist injury, Middlebrooks showed Red Sox nation that he was the real deal and a budding future star for the organization.
In 2013, things were starting to look good for Middlebrooks. He was named the Red Sox starting third baseman at the beginning of the season. Middlebrooks repaid the Red Sox with their faith in him by hitting 8-for-25 (.320) with 4HR and 6RBIs. This included a monstrous game in Toronto where he went 4-5 with 3HR and 4RBIs.
Unfortunately, things then things went south. In the next 40 games, he batted 27-for-149 (.181) with just 4 HRs and 15 RBIs.
On May 24th, the 3rd baseman suffered a lower back injury that put him on the DL for 16 days (May 24-June 10). Towards the end of his time on the shelf, Middlebrooks had a brief rehab stint down in Pawtucket (June 4-9) where he went 5-for-17 (.294) with 2HRs and 6 RBIs.
His production spurred a call back up from Boston, but Middlebrooks continued to struggle behind the plate at the MLB level, going 4-for-29 (.137) with 1 HR, 4RBIs in 7 games. He was then optioned back down to Pawtucket on Tuesday, June 25th.
Middlebrooks made his 2013 PawSox debut on Wednesday June 26 against the Toledo MudHens, playing his natural third base position and batting in the cleanup spot.
He seemed to struggle a bit with his bat swing and timing as he saw his first three at-bats end with ground outs to the shortstop. Though regardless of his performance, every time he went up to bat, the PawSox faithful were cheering him loudly. Their faith in Middlebrooks paid dividends as he drove in the 5th and eventual game winning run in the bottom of the 7th inning on a single up the right side, leading the PawSox past the MudHens 5-4.
After the game, I was able to get a few sound bites from the Red Sox third baseman.
6/26 Scoop Fox with Will Middlebrooks
Most players would view getting optioned to the Triple-A level as a sign of disrespect lack of faith from their management. However, Will just sees it as an opportunity to get better and stronger. Maybe all he needs to get his head right is a breather away from the stress in Boston to a place where the fans will cheer for you no matter what. Once Will gets his swing back, you can bet you'll see him back at Fenway with the big club in no time.
This is Scoop Fox. signing off.
In Thursday night's game against the Toledo MudHens, Will Middlebrooks went 1-4 with a single in the bottom of the 8th inning as the PawSox won 3-0.
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