Will Middlebrooks

Winter ball a possibility for Will Middlebrooks: 'He's got to find himself as a major league hitter'

September 03, 2014 - 2:42 pm

NEW YORK -- The 2014 season for Will Middlebrooks has been one to forget. The 25-year-old had perhaps his worst game of the challenging season on Tuesday, when he went 0-for-5 while matching a career-high with four strikeouts, all looking at sliders, and he also committed an error. His average has plummeted to .183 with a .251 OBP and .268 slugging mark; he's striking out 30 percent of the time. "I think there's been times when he's trying to think along with a given pitcher and anticipating a certain kind of pitch and a certain location and it's not quite there. At times, that might be the reason why he's not pulled the trigger on some pitches," said Sox manager John Farrell. "We came off a series in Tampa where I thought he swung the bat very well with some authority back through the middle of the field, certainly to right-center field as well. But the early work, the work routine, that all remains consistent. It's a matter of doing it in-game." Time to do so during the regular season is running out quickly for Middlebrooks, who has been limited by two stints on the DL to just 47 big league games (and 29 more at the minor league level). As such, the Red Sox have started conversations with the third baseman about the possibility of playing winter ball somewhere. "It would be beneficial, I think, to make up for some at-bats that might not have been there. He did get some regular at-bats while he was on a rehab assignment. But yeah, there have been a number of at-bats missed here this year," said Farrell. "There's been a conversation had, and yet, trying to work through that right now." There is clearly work to be done based on Middlebrooks' 2014 performance. It's difficult for the team to commit to a big league role for him in 2015 given what he's shown in both 2013 and this season. "It's I'm sure frustrating for him and frustrating for us to some degree because we know he has the talent to perform better. He's got the ability to do that. The staff is trying to find ways to unlock that, and he's trying to find ways to unlock that. It hasn't happened yet," said GM Ben Cherington. "He's got to find himself as a major league hitter. We believe he will at some point, but there's obviously a ways to go."