Middlebrooks on debut: 'Words can't describe it'

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Middlebrooks on debut: 'Words can't describe it'

BOSTON His major league debut went about as well as he could have hoped.In the starting lineup. Playing third base. Batting eighth. His parents in the stands. At Fenway Park.Will Middlebrooks, the Red Sox highly valued prospect, was in la-la land, he said for the first few innings of Wednesday nights game against the As. Then it hit him that this is just another game.So he continued the pace he had been setting with Triple-A Pawtucket.Middlebrooks went 2-for-3 with a double, a walk, and a stolen base. The only other batter in the Red Sox lineup with as many as two hits was David Ortiz.The only downer to his night was the final score, as the Sox lost to the As, 4-2.It was unbelievable, Middlebrooks said. Words cant describe it. To come here to Fenway Park and to play with these guys. Its unreal.Middlebrooks walked on four pitches in his first career plate appearance in the second inning, then promptly stole second. He had an infield single in the fifth for his first career hit.Man, I wish I could get a real hit, he thought to himself after the hit. The next one was better.Indeed it was, as he doubled into the right field corner in the seventh, before striking out in the eighth. His batting average stands at .667, with a 1.000 slugging percentage, and .750 on-base percentage.Those numbers wont stay so lofty. But for one night, they sure look good.I wish we could be in there all celebrating and sharing the delight that hed really have if this were a victory, manager Bobby Valentine said. But this was a terrific game. He played nice defense. The walk, the hustle, the stolen base. He was one of the right-handed hitters to go with that cutter to right field.Did a good job.

Extended podcast with David Ortiz on his career, PED's, the Marathon bombing and more

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Extended podcast with David Ortiz on his career, PED's, the Marathon bombing and more

David Ortiz offers thoughtful answers and insight in this interview with Sean McAdam touching on his beginning with the Red Sox, the Boston Marathon bombings, showing up on a PED list, his impact in the dugout, and more.

You can also see pieces of the interview on CSN Friday at 6:30pm on a special Arbella Early Edition with Gary Tanguay and Lou Merloni.

RELATED Special Video Series - "Big Papi - An Oral History" from CSN

Bogaerts' "maturity is clearly taking hold"

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Bogaerts' "maturity is clearly taking hold"

NEW YORK -- Xander Bogaerts enjoyed a terrific 2015, his second full season in the big leagues.

He finished second in the American League batting race, established himself as a solid defender at short and generally showed immense promise.

The only thing he didn't do was show much home run power, limited to just seven homers.

This past spring, both manager John Farrell and Chili Davis expressed confidence that the home runs would come, and that they would come organically.

And so they have. In Thursday night's loss to the New York Yankees, a solo homer in the fifth by Bogaerts represented the only Red Sox run of the night in a 5-1 loss. It also gave Bogaerts 21 homers for the year, exactly triple his output from a year ago.

"The maturity is clearly taking hold," said John Farrell of Bogaerts' growth. "You start to get a couple thousand at-bats at the major league level, you're starting to understand your swing, you're picking out certain counts in which to leverage a little bit more. He's been able to do that.

"Home runs are up across the board. But with Xander in particular, he's physically maturing and he's maturing as a major league player as well."

Bogaerts took the advise of Davis and others and didn't set out to try to hit more homers this year. He knew they would come in time.

"Maybe not this quick," he said of the big increase, "but probably in the future, yeah. That's what I did in the minor leagues, so it's kind of something that I thought might translate to the big leagues, too."

Bogaerts is hard-pressed to put his finger on any on factor to explain the big uptick. After all, he didn't change his swing or his stance.

Rather, the homers came as a result of him understanding himself better as a hitter and consistently taking the right approach at the plate.

"It's just (a matter of) taking good swings in good counts," he offered. "Sometimes, you're looking for one. But overall, it's just being a more mature hitter and looking for the right spots to pick and choose."

It hasn't hurt that he's surrounded by quality hitters in the Red Sox lineup, with Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia ahead of him earlier in the year, and now Pedrioa ahead of him and David Ortiz behind him.

In addition to seeing better pitches because of who's surrounding him, Bogaerts has also benefitted from listening to Ortiz, who watches his at-bats and offers advice when called for.

Still, most of the credit belongs to Bogaerts himself, who has grown into his power naturally -- just as his manager and hitting coach forecast.