A new era is upon the Red Sox at third base.
Midway through the 2012 season –– when
Boston shipped out Kevin Youkilis to the White Sox after nine seasons –– Will
Middlebrooks officially took the reins as the franchise's third baseman of the
Through 75 games, Middlebrooks wasted no
time proving his value in the big leagues, launching 15 home runs and 54 RBIs
while hitting .288. As each week went on, the 24-year-old's defense improved.
But on Aug. 10, his sensational rookie ride
ended when Indians reliever Esmil Rogers nailed him on the wrist with a 95 mph
fastball. It wound up being a broken wrist that sidelined Middlebrooks for the
rest of the season.
During the last series of the season,
Middlebrooks' rehab took a promising turn, when he took batting practice for
the first time since the injury. Afterward, he admitting to feeling surprised
about his strength.
Even so, Middlebrooks will use the offseason
to heal and prepare to return to spring training with full health. Like Dustin
Pedroia at second base, third base is one of the few positions on the roster
that has a long-term solution.
Should Middlebrooks get injured down the
road, the Red Sox still have depth at the position with Pedro Ciriaco –– who
filled in for Middlebrooks down the stretch during the 2012 season.
Naturally a shortstop, Ciriaco honed his
craft at third base and demonstrated the necessary range to thrive, if
necessary. The Red Sox also traded for Danny Valencia to offer additional depth
Ultimately, there are no questions here.
With a year of experience under his belt, Middlebrooks is primed to maintain
his offensive momentum next season when he's cleared for action.