While Middlebrooks rehabs a finger injury, the Red Sox made a really big move that could affect his future. They re-signed Stephen Drew this week and plan to use him at shortstop once he’s game-ready. That would send Xander Bogaerts to third base, which would seem to leave Middlebrooks as the odd man out.
That’s something Middlebrooks is trying not to worry about right now, but he knows why the team felt the need to reacquire Drew.
“Team had to do what it had to do,” Middlebrooks told WEEI.com on Thursday. “I understand that. It’s about us. It’s not about Will. I’m hurt. They had to fill that spot. That was the best option. (Drew is) a damn good player and an even better teammate.
“I haven’t wanted to talk about it. A lot of people have wanted to talk about it. I really don’t have much to say other than I’m happy to see him here. He’s a good teammate. He’s a good player. He’s going to help us win.”
Middlebrooks can’t afford to sit around and feel sorry for himself, anyway, since he’s at a pretty pivotal point of his career. At 25, he’s nearing his prime, but he has battled injury and inconsistency since breaking into the bigs in 2012.
Middlebrooks hit .288 with 15 home runs in just 75 games as one of the Red Sox’s lone bright spots in a forgettable 2012 season. Expectations were high in 2013, but Middlebrooks struggled: He played in just 94 games, and his average dipped to .227 to go along with 17 homers and 49 RBIs. The 2013 season included time on the disabled list and time in the minors, too.
This year has been disappointing, too. The injury bug continues to bite, and Middlebrooks has appeared in just 21 games. He’s hitting just .197 in those games and has a .629 OPS.
“I know the player I am. I know I’m a good player,” Middlebrooks told WEEI.com. “I know I’m an impact player on this team offensively and defensively and in the clubhouse. I’ve had some bad breaks. Got to grind it out and just deal with it.
“Me sitting here and whining about it, it’s not going to get me anywhere,” he added. “It’s tough to even talk about. I just want to play ball. I want to compete and help us win. And I feel like even when I’ve been out there, I haven’t been in a position really to help us win.”
Middlebrooks can’t do any of that until he gets healthy, though, and that’s what’s best for all parties involved right now.