Will MiddlebrooksBOSTON — The Red Sox still are hopeful third baseman Will Middlebrooks will return this season.

The Red Sox only have three games remaining on the schedule, yet the club isn’t ready to shut down Middlebrooks. The 26-year-old has missed four straight games with a right hand injury, but Boston manager John Farrell isn’t ruling out a potential return this weekend.

“The right hand that he’s been dealing with, that’s still sore,” Farrell said before Friday’s game against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park. “As he went through BP, there’s a certain effort or energy level to the swing that he can produce without any discomfort. It’s clear the discomfort’s there and this stems back from the pitch he was hit on the hand back in Texas. If he’s available, he’ll be on the field.”

Middlebrooks has been limited to 234 plate appearances over 63 major league games this season. He garnered only 374 plate appearances over 94 regular-season games in 2013. The Red Sox have made it clear they’d like to see Middlebrooks play winter ball this offseason, and Farrell was unwavering Friday when asked whether it’s still a possibility.

“Right now, he’s going to need some time, I would say, to overcome the soreness he’s got in the hand. It’s not in the wrist, it’s in the hand,” Farrell said. “Anytime you miss significant at-bats, number of at-bats, you’d like to see that made up somehow. But a player’s health is first and foremost, and if he’s capable, we’d still encourage the at-bats made up.”

Rusney Castillo, Christian Vazquez and Edwin Escobar are the Red Sox players currently primed for winter ball.