Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Middlebrooks is ready

Red Sox third base prospect Will Middlebrooks returned to action earlier this week with the Lowell Spinners after hitting the disabled list with a strain in his right tricep earlier this month. He has showed little-to-no signs of rust in four games as the Spinners designated hitter and is primed to get back to the Portland Sea Dogs by week's end.

“Oh my god, he’s been swinging the bat well,” exclaimed Lowell manager Carlos Febles after Tuesday night’s game against Vermont. “This is a guy who has missed three weeks and it’s like he hasn’t missed a day.”

In his four games since returning, Middlebrooks has gone 4-12 for a .333 batting average. His four hits have been a double and three home runs. Added to that are 6 RBI, 4 runs, 2 walks and even a stolen base. His OPS with Lowell is 1.567 and his slugging percentage is 1.167.

“He’s a man amongst boys here,” said Spinners hitting coach Rich Gedman. “He’s a guy that will make you pay if you miss.”

Before going down, Middlebrooks was batting .297 in Portland with 8 home runs, 32 RBI and 27 runs. He has yet to play in the field since returning to action, which is the last step that the organization wants him to take prior to making the jump back up to Portland.

“He’s taking ground balls [in practice], throwing and everything,” said Febles. “He’s ready to play in the field, I believe Thursday.”

The rehab stint marked a return to Lowell for Middlebrooks, where he made his professional debut, playing in 59 games for the Spinners back in 2008. Since then he has moved up one rung on the ladder each season, reaching Portland to start this year after an All-Star campaign in Class-A Salem in 2010.

Middlebrooks is slated to play at third base on Thursday night for the Spinners, then he is set to return to Portland in time for the holiday weekend series against first place New Hampshire at Hadlock Field. From there he will be featured in the MLB Futures Game in Phoenix, Arizona on July 10th and the Eastern League All-Star Game in Manchester, New Hampshire on July 13th.

“He’s supposed to be here with us for the next couple of days, but I don’t think it’s going to be longer than that,” concluded Febles on Tuesday. “He’s ready to go, the elbow is fine.”

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