Middlebrooks calf 'awesome', hopes to play soon

Middlebrooks calf 'awesome', hopes to play soon
April 19, 2014, 12:00 pm
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BOSTON -- Will Middlebrooks jumped and sprinted and lunged in shallow right field of Fenway Park on Saturday morning, testing the strained calf that sent him to the 15-day disabled list two weeks ago.

Red Sox manager John Farrell described it as "kind of a big day" for the third baseman, who could have a rehab schedule in place soon depending on how he feels.

"If he comes through today in good shape," Farrell said, "we could be looking at something possibly Monday, Tuesday to get him out."

Middlebrooks said before Saturday's game with the Orioles that his calf feels "awesome" and that he's been anxious to get back on the field. He has been swinging for a week and running for three or four days. On Saturday he planned to sprint at 90 percent and maybe test his leg by going full speed.

He's been keeping the Red Sox staff up to date on how he feels, and he's been badgering them to do more.

"I felt like I could've played yesterday at a smart level but there's no reason to push it yet,"  Middlebrooks said. "I can't come off [the disabled list] until tomorrow anyway. I'm close though."

The 23-year-old walked away from Saturday's on-the-field workout seemingly without incident and appeared upbeat.

He said he would want to play in at least one minor-league rehab game before making his return to the Red Sox lineup "just to test it where I can take some at-bats and try to steal a bag or something, just see where I'm at. I need to know. I don't want to get here and have to limit myself."

Though the Red Sox got something out of their third-base spot on Friday night when Brock Holt went 2-for-4 with an RBI, the team has struggled to find much offensive production from the position since Middlebrooks went down.

Ryan Roberts was signed to be the righthanded bat in a platoon with switch-hitter Jonathan Herrera, but he went 2-for-19 (.105) in eight games since Middlebrooks' injury. Herrera has fared better, but not by much, hitting .240 with an on-base percentage of .345. He has three RBI in 11 games.

Though the team has done a better job of executing at the plate in recent days, the Red Sox are slugging .345 as a team -- about 40 points below the league average.

Middlebrooks hopes to soon be part of the solution.

"You always want to help out," he said. "They've done a good job. They've played some good games. We've faced some pretty good pitching too. And that's not gonna stop in our league. But we'll pick things up."

Middlebrooks dealt with strep throat for three days in Chicago but has been on antibiotics for three days and has ridded himself of any symptoms. He thinks that pushing himself to rehab his calf injury helped contribute to his illness.

"I came in and running around in the cold and sitting through a 14-inning game," he said. "I told them I didn't feel good, but I didn't tell them how bad it was. I didn't want them to freak out. I woke up that second day in Chicago and felt like crap."

He said his illness didn't at all set him back in terms of his calf's recovery. Now he's feeling close to completely healthy and almost ready to get back on the field.

"I hate sitting on the bench," he said. "It drives me nuts. Drives me nuts."