BOSTON — Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks might soon pull a Brock Holt.
Middlebrooks, who currently is on the disabled list with a fractured right index finger, made his first rehab start with Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday. The current focus is on getting Middlebrooks back up to game speed, but it might not be long before the Red Sox expose the 25-year-old to the outfield in an effort to increase his versatility.
“Our intent is to get him back in the flow of things playing at those two positions — that would be at third base and DH,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said before Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Indians at Fenway Park. “Once we get into the rehab progress or plan a week to 10 days, we may take a look at him in the outfield just to get answer any questions of flexibility that we can before a decision on the roster is to be made. If that gives us (an) ability to find at-bats for Will if he were to come back here in that capacity, so be it.”
Middlebrooks has never played the outfield in the majors or at any level of the minors, so the shift certainly would be experimental. It isn’t without precedent, though, as Holt never played the outfield until this season yet has thrived at both corner outfield positions in addition to the infield.
Trying Middlebrooks in the outfield makes sense, too. Boston’s outfield has been the club’s biggest Achilles’ heel this season, and Middlebrooks figures to be without a defined role upon returning now that Xander Bogaerts is firmly entrenched as the Red Sox’s everyday third baseman with shortstop Stephen Drew back in the mix.
Middlebrooks, who has been on the disabled list since May 17, is hitting .197 with two homers and nine RBIs in 21 games with Boston this season. He went 1-for-3 with a strikeout and a single while serving as the PawSox’s DH during Saturday’s rehab start.