In short time, Will Middlebrooks leaving powerful impression

Rob Bradford
August 13, 2013 - 11:37 pm

TORONTO -- It's only been three games, but when it comes to the return of Will Middlebrooks ... so far, so good. After going 2-for-5 with a run in the Red Sox' 4-2, 11-inning win over the Blue Jays Tuesday night at Rogers Centre, Middlebrooks is now hitting .417 (5-for-12). And, perhaps most important, the Red Sox have won two of the three games, improving the 24-year-old's career win-loss mark to 75-56. '€œHe looks more relaxed, a little more confident," said Red Sox manager John Farrell regarding Middlebrooks. "Makes a handful of good plays down at third base. I thought the first at-bat, the first time he'€™s probably faced [Toronto starter Todd] Redmond, who could be tough on some right-handers, but then he gets the double down the right-field line. A key basehit in that one inning, breaks up a double play. He played a solid game for us tonight." When told of Farrell's analysis, Middlebrooks said, "Yeah, I guess. I'm not fighting my body anymore. I can just go out and play, and I don't have to worry about making things worse or me not being able to make certain movements because I'm hurting. I don't have to worry about that anymore. That's probably the biggest thing." Middlebrooks identified the Mother's Day collision with David Ross -- in which the third baseman injured his ribs -- as a time his fortunes took a turn for the worse. It was an uphill battle that only got steeper when his back ailment flared up. "I'm in a much better place," he said. "Like I said, I just don't have to worry about, 'Am I going to blow out here and be done?' I can just go out and play free. I've got more fluid motion back and just was able to play my game." Besides pushing his physical issues aside, Middlebrooks also seems to have reentered the Red Sox clubhouse with a greater peace of mind. "I mean, with this core group of veterans we have here, it's pretty easy," he said. "Granted, this is only my second year in the big leagues, but I've never been around a group of guys who come in and want to win this bad. I mean, we had three guys on an off-day here yesterday watching the game. How often is it you're going to see that?"