Will Middlebrooks’ offseason plans are to be determined.
The Boston Red Sox have left open the possibility of Middlebrooks playing winter ball after a disappointing 2014 season. The third baseman hasn’t yet made a decision, though, as several factors are in play.
“It’s tough,” Middlebrooks told WEEI.com’s Alex Speier during the Red Sox’s series against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium this week. “I do understand the organizational side of it and what they need to feel or see, but then there’s my side of it. I want to go get healthy, I want to go get stronger, I want to get fresh, turn the page and get ready for next year. It’s a tough decision.
“I just feel like, do I take the time and go get healthy and let some of these things go away, not swing a bat for a while, or do I get the consistent at-bats in games for a couple months and then have the healing pushed back and take more time for everything?”
Middlebrooks expects to have more discussions with the Red Sox this month regarding the possibility of playing winter ball after the season ends. Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, assistant GM Mike Hazen and manager John Farrell all pointed to winter ball as being a possibility for the 25-year-old, but Middlebrooks, who has battled various injuries over the last two seasons, wants to make sure the benefit of garnering extra at-bats won’t be mitigated by an inability to fully recover health-wise for 2015.
“That’s the part I don’t know. That’s the part I’m just not sure of. I don’t know,” Middlebrooks said. “That’s something that time will tell. I don’t have an answer for you.”
Middlebrooks made it clear in his conversation with Speier that the subject of winter ball isn’t one involving animosity. The sides remain amicable in all their discussions, which should increase in the coming weeks.
“It’s not like I’m going against them. It’s not like a butting of heads. It’s not like that at all,” Middlebrooks told Speier. “They understand where I’m coming from and I understand where they’re coming from.”
It’s been another disappointing season for Middlebrooks, who hasn’t lived up to expectations since bursting onto the scene in 2012. Injuries certainly have played a role, even if they’re not the only preventative flaw in Middlebrooks’ game.
“I know I’m a good player,” Middlebrooks said. “When I’m healthy — no excuses — but when I’m healthy, I know the type of player I am. I know the impact I can make in the game. That’s not cockiness. I just know the player I am. I know the tools I have. I know what I can do. I’ve done it. That adds to the frustration when things aren’t going well, because I know the player I am. It’s hard not to be able to show it.”
Winter ball or no winter ball, this will be an important offseason for Middlebrooks, whose potential remains very much untapped.