Red Sox pregame notes: Mookie Betts sent down to Pawtucket; Will Middlebrooks to get more at-bats in Triple-A; Rubby De La Rosa excelling in rehab-free season

July 19, 2014 - 2:59 pm

While the return of Shane Victorino would seem to be good news for most involved with the Red Sox, the same likely can'€™t be said for youngster Mookie Betts, who was optioned down to Triple-A Pawtucket to make room on the roster for the veteran outfielder. Red Sox manager John Farrell said prior to Saturday'€™s game against the Royals that he was impressed with Betts, who posted a line of .235/.278/.382 in 10 games with the Red Sox, but also noted that the 21-year-old outfielder/infielder needs more seasoning and regular playing time elsewhere. "€œI thought he managed his at-bats well,"€ Farrell said. "€œI thought he showed very good presence, or at least composure, for a guy who'€™s flown through our system. He'€™s a work in progress defensively, particularly in the outfield and he'€™ll continue to get exposure in center and in right field in Pawtucket while also playing some second base, so that'€™s the plan going forward for him defensively." Farrell acknowledged that it is unclear what the future holds for Betts in terms of finding a home on the diamond, as the established second baseman has seen most of his time in the Sox outfield this year due to both injuries and Dustin Pedroia holding the position for the foreseeable future. "I don'€™t know that there'€™s a clear-cut answer to that right now," Farrell said of Betts' expected long-term position. "œI think there'€™s going to be a number of things that contribute to that final positioning -€“- how the bat plays, how he further develops defensively, if it'€™s a good that potentially moves around to a number of positions. I wouldn't rule that out, but to sit here today and say, '€˜Mookie is going to be at this position for the next 10 years,'€™ I don'€™t have that answer or that crystal ball." OTHER RED SOX NOTES: -- While Victorino may have gotten his call back up to the big leagues Saturday, third baseman Will Middlebrooks will have to remain in Pawtucket for a bit longer. Middlebrooks, who'€™s been sidelined since May 17 with a fractured finger, has posted a line of .224/.281/.328 with one home run and 5 RBIs in 18 games with the PawSox. While Farrell said Friday that there was a possibility that Middlebrooks could be back up with the Red Sox before the team'€™s seven-game road trip begins Monday, he stated today that he wants the 25-year-old slugger to remain in Triple-A for the time being in order to get more regular at-bats. "€œHe'€™ll continue to play everyday at third base at Pawtucket," Farrell said. "I think there'€™s been a little confusion with some of the messages that'€™s been interpreted that he'€™s going to be activated this weekend or the same time [as Victorino]. I think the one thing that we want to be sure of, that Will continues to get everyday at-bats, and for the time being, that'€™ll take place at Pawtucket." -- Sox starter Rubby De La Rosa continues to stand out as one of Boston'€™s most impressive young players this season. Just one year removed from posting an 0-2 record with a 5.56 ERA, De La Rosa has looked like a completely different pitcher on the mound, boasting an ERA of 2.89 -- the 11th-lowest mark of AL pitchers with at least six starts this season -- with a WHIP of 1.04. While the Red Sox have only given the 25-year-old righty two runs of support over his last four starts (24 2/3 innings), De La Rosa has kept his team in the game and especially at home, compiling a 1.42 ERA over his last three starts at Fenway this season. For Farrell, De La Rosa'€™s success on the hill this year is a direct result of the fact that the righty has not been bogged down with rehab issues as has been the case in years past. De La Rosa underwent Tommy John surgery in August 2011 and took quite a while to get back to 100 percent. "€œI can only speak for the time he'€™s been with us, and last year was a rehab year, and I think there was, from my view, it was almost a physical exercise that he was going out to throw this number of pitches in this outing and this year, in comparison, he was going out to compete, to pitch, to earn his way back to the major leagues and there'€™s been a noticeable difference in the demeanor on the mound and the way he'€™s more consistent executed his pitches," Farrell said. "Along with that has come some added confidence, and I think he'€™s shown that in his body language."