Third baseman Will Middlebrooks has had better weeks.
On April 7, Middlebrooks slammed three homers in a 13-0 demolition of the Blue Jays. The second-year man looked like one of the best young sluggers in the game. In the 10 games that followed, however, Middlebrooks went just 4-for-43 (.093) with zero extra-base hits, dropping his average on the season to .176. Middlebrooks then went 1-for-4 Monday night with a three-run home run.
“I’m not hitting the ball,” Middlebrook said. “It’s as simple as that. There’s nothing wrong. It’s part of the game. It happens sometimes.”
Still, with the questions mounting over Middlebrooks’ performance — he insists the wrist he broke last year is fine, manager John Farrell offered him a vote of confidence.
“He’s not swinging the bat, or he’s not getting the production as he’s experienced last year, but this is someone that — he’s our third baseman, and we’re going to stick with him and continue to work to get him on track,” Farrell said. “There’s no physical issues there. I can’t say that he’s pressing, but he’s chasing some pitches out of the strike zone, and he’s not letting the pitcher come to him as much as when he’s in a good spot, he typically has.”
— 1B Mike Napoli and RHP Andrew Bailey have been named American League co-players of the week. It was the first time each has won the award. In seven games last week, the Red Sox went 5-2, while Napoli hit .345 (10-for-29) with five doubles, a triple, a home run and 10 RBIs. In addition to leading the majors in RBIs, Napoli finished tied for first overall in doubles, tied for second in total bases, and was tied for third in hits. On Monday, he went 2-for-4 with a double, a grand slam, two runs scored, five RBIs and was hit by a pitch. He is now hitting .278 with a .321 on-base percentage and a .570 slugging percentage.
Bailey was 1-0 with three saves, one walk and eight strikeouts over 5.0 innings pitched in five appearances. He pitched a scoreless ninth inning Monday, earning his fourth save.
— LHP Franklin Morales started the season on the disabled list with a low back strain after being sidelined for most of spring training. He has made one rehab appearance, going three innings on April 17 for Single-A Greenville and was expected to make another appearance this week. Originally he was to pitch Monday for Portland, and then it was pushed back to Wednesday. But the Red Sox said on Monday that Morales has a sore left pectoral muscle. The Red Sox currently have just one left-hander in their bullpen, with Andrew Miller.
— RHP Joel Hanrahan, on the disabled list since April 14 with a right hamstring strain, threw off a mound Monday for the first time since his last game (April 13), when he faced two Rays batters and walked both. Hanrahan threw 30 pitches, mostly fastballs.
“It felt good,” he said. “I had been throwing for four or five days, keeping my arm in shape and doing stuff in the training room, strengthening. It’s really been getting better. Today, I did some running and cutting and everything’s pretty good.”
He is expected to make one or two rehab appearances before he is activated.
— RF Shane Victorino was back in the Red Sox lineup on Monday. He left Saturday’s game and missed Sunday’s doubleheader against the Royals because of low back tightness. Victorino, a switch-hitter, went 1-for-4 with a walk and a run scored. He is batting .308 with a .378 on-base percentage.
“The job he’s done to date has been outstanding,” said manager John Farrell, “particularly from the left side of the plate. His presence in the two-hole gives us a guy who can handle the bat. He’s gotten on base at a high rate.”