He had waited 23 years to fulfill his dream of playing in Major League Baseball. So, as the hordes of reporters circled around his locker May 2, the day he was called up, the third baseman said he planned to stay in the big leagues.
"This is everyone's goal — to play here," Middlebrooks said. "This is something I've worked toward my whole life. It feels really good to be here. I worked to be here. I was ready when they called."
Staying on the Red Sox' major league roster can be difficult. Many rookies don't immediately stick from the get-go. Just look at recent examples over the past decade.
Kevin Youkilis, who became a fixture in Boston's infield before being traded to Chicago last month, was called up in 2004. But in 2005, he was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket for 43 games.
David Ortiz made his major league debut in 1997 for the Twins. After playing in 86 games in 1998, though, he was demoted to Triple-A in 1999, where he played in 130 games before coming up full-time the following season.
Clay Buchholz threw a no-hitter in his second start as a rookie in 2007, but he still shuttled between Boston and Pawtucket until 2009.
So clearly, staying on the major league roster right away is a rare feat. But Middlebrooks overcame the odds by producing on offense, made Youkilis expendable at third base and ultimately captured a coveted starting spot at third base.
"Once I figured out that I was here to stay, I was happy for about a day," Middlebrooks said. "And then I went, 'You know what? I'm not satisfied. I met that goal, I'm here, but now it's time to do something about it.' "
Middlebrooks accomplished his goal after announcing it May 2. And despite his early success, the 23-year-old is eager to break even more barriers for the Red Sox.
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) is offering 100 healthy tips to celebrate Fenway Park’s centennial. Visit 100pitches.org to learn more.