Will Middlebrooks rewarded the Red Sox with a nice effort in his first game back in the majors. Before the game, however, manager John Farrell was forced to answer questions about why Middlebrooks ultimately got the nod over top prospect Xander Bogaerts.
Farrell said before Saturday’s game that Middlebrooks, who played in 53 games with the Red Sox earlier this season before being demoted on June 25, represented the better fit. The Sox skipper also thinks some extra seasoning in the minors could help Bogaerts.
“Based on the recommendations of the people who have gone through there lately, as well as talking to [PawSox manager Gary DiSarcina], it was very clear in his mind that Will was the choice,” Farrell told reporters in Kansas City before Saturday’s game. “And that’s not to take anything away from Xander’s abilities. He’s swinging the bat well, but it’s more on the defensive side, the finer points of the game. Right now he continues to need his reps.”
Perhaps the biggest advantage that Middlebrooks had in the whole infield toss-up was that his natural position is third base. Bogaerts’ natural position is shortstop, and while the 20-year-old has been seeing playing time down at the hot corner, Boston ultimately decided to go with the guy with more experience.
“It’s a matter of who’s the best fit right now for the needs that we have,” Farrell said. “We need an everyday third baseman, so that was the clear choice — Will — not only because he’s been a third baseman his entire pro career, but it’s also what he’s been doing lately.”
Middlebrooks collected two hits and two RBIs in his return as the Red Sox won 5-3. If he can continue to turn in efforts like that, the whole Middlebrooks-Bogaerts debate might soon become a thing of the past regardless of Bogaerts’ bright future.