SEATTLE -- Will Middlebrooks left Sunday's game after experiencing some tightness in his left hamstring following a steal of second base in the top of the ninth inning.
Manager Bobby Valentine was unsure how serious the injury was, noting that, typically, muscle pulls are best evaluated a day later. Middlebrooks, too, through a team spokeswoman, declined comment until Monday.
With Middlebrooks unavailable in the bottom of the ninth, Valentine had to do some shuffling. Shortstop Mike Aviles was scratched about an hour before gametime for illness, with Nick Punto taking over at short.
When Middlebrooks felt the tightness, Valentine moved Punto to third and inserted Aviles at short for the final inning and a half.
If Middlebrooks is sidelined for a day or so, the Sox have three options at third: Aviles, Punto, and newly-acquired Brent Lillibridge. If the Sox attempt to play a few days without Middlebrooks going on the disabled list, it could be a challenge, since, with 13 pitchers, they currently have just three reserves on the bench.
They could opt to option Clayton Mortensen to Pawtucket in exchange for another position player.