BOSTON -- Will Middlebrooks is close to a return.
That's coming from Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, who spoke to Middlebrooks in his office on Saturday morning, along with the training staff.
The third baseman missed his fourth-straight game on Friday night with a hamstring injury, but has since taken ground balls and hit in the cage.
Valentine said, before the afternoon portion of Saturday's day-night double-header against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park, that the plan is for Middlebrooks to be 100 percent when they return from the All-Star break on Friday in Tampa Bay. He wouldn't rule out a pinch-hit appearance before this weekend's series is over.
"He hit for almost two innings in a game yesterday in the cage, and he felt nothing," said Valentine. "I'm always, with those pulled muscles, I always like to give them to a day after, if someone thinks that they feel fine.
"If he feels great today, I'm not sure. Some of the madness in not DL'ing him, was to have him ready coming out of the break, and not miss those five games on the other side of the break. But if he's perfect today, he could pinch-hit today, I think."
BOSTON - David Ortiz may be masterful in the clutch and one of the more charitable athletes in the city, but much like anyone else, Big Papi doesn’t always inform his own Papi of news right away -- even if he plans to announce it to the general public.
“He actually didn’t tell me [that he planned to announce his retirement],” Enrique Ortiz, David’s father, said through a Red Sox’ translator on Saturday before the next-to-last regular-season game. “I was in the Dominican Republic when he announced it in the states.
While Enrique would explain -- humbly -- how proud he was of his son, he’s not so sure announcing his retirement before the season was the correct move.
“If I was [in America], I would have told him not to announce his retirement,” the elder Ortiz explained, “just because there’s so many things that can happen in a season. Or you might have a change of heart after the season.
“If I were here I would have told him to stay neutral so his options were more open. So I wouldn’t have told him to retire.”
Although dad wasn’t on board with his son’s announcement, he’s done what any good parent does -- bite their tongue and let things play out.
“I haven’t told him anything about why he's retiring because I know it’s coming from him and it’s his decision,” Enrique said. “But when I look back to 2013, I remember coming here and I see him with what looks like two cats on his feet. And I’m like ‘What happened to my boy? Did he get into an accident or something?’ And what he told me was, ‘This is how you son is making this money, doing all of this stuff before a game.’ So [him retiring] is not a surprise to me.”
The Red Sox (93-67) look to close in on the No. 2 seed in the A.L. playoffs and home-field advantage in the Division Series with the Cleveland Indians (92-67) with a victory over the Toronto Blue Jays tonight at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox send left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (3-7, 4.68 ERA) to the mound against left-hander J.A. Happ (20-4, 3.20). Rodriguez is expected to pitch either Game 3 or 4 of the Division Series against the Indians next week.
If both teams finish with 94 wins, the Red Sox hold the tiebreaker over the Indians, based on Boston winning the season series, 4-2. The Indians may have to play a makeup game Monday with the Detroit Tigers.
The Jays are a game behind the Baltimore Orioles for the top A.L. wild-card spot and hold a half-game lead over the Detroit Tigers for the second wild-card spot.
Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts moves back to his customary No. 2 spot in the batting order after hitting sixth Friday night. Right-handed hitting Aaron Hill is at third base and Christian Vazquez catches for Boston.
There will be the second of three ceremonies this weekend to honor retiring Red Sox DH David Ortiz before the game.
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Chris Young LF
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Aaron Hill 3B
Christian Vazquez C
Eduardo Rodriguez LHP
Devon Travis 2B
Josh Donaldson 3B
Edwin Encarnacion 1B
Jose Bautista DH
Russell Martin C
Troy Tulowitzki SS
Melvin Upton LF
Kevin Pillar CF
Ezequiel Carrera RF
J.A. Happ LHP