Middlebrooks leaves game in 9th with tight hamstring

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Middlebrooks leaves game in 9th with tight hamstring

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.

Good news for Benintendi: Just a sprain, and he may return this year

Good news for Benintendi: Just a sprain, and he may return this year

BOSTON -- The news was about as good as it could be -- under the circumstances -- for rookie outfielder Andrew Benintendi.

Benintendi underwent a second round of tests and examinations Friday, which revealed he is only dealing with a sprained left knee. The tests found no structural damage to the knee, and the ACL remains intact.

"When you think back and look at the video,'' said manager John Farrell, "this could have been much, much worse.''

Benintendi injured the knee Wednesday night at Tropicana Field when he attempted to return to second base after breaking for third on a grounder to shortstop, and had the knee buckle on him.

He had to be helped off the field and, initially, it was feared Benintendi had suffered a more severe knee injury, one that would require a surgical procedure.

"I'm definitely fortunate,'' said Beintendi. "It looked a lot worse than it actually was. It's unfortunate it happened and I'll try to get as healthy as possible as quickly as I can.''

"We're lucky that the ACL is not involved,'' said Farrell. "We're still optimistic that he could return this season.''

Benintendi was placed on the disabled list Thursday and will be lost to the team for at least the next two weeks, and likely longer.

"It's an interruption,'' acknowledged Farrell. "His production has been apparent, on both sides of the baseball. He's had an impact. So we're going to miss him. But at the same time, I think we've gotten a lot of good news here today that, despite the injury and the DL stint, there's optimism in this and that's in his return sometime this season.

"He'll be back as (soon as) available, and optimistically, we're thinking that could still be the regular season.'' Farrell praised Benintendi for being a "complete player.''

Benitendi was walking without a limp, though he was wearing a brace on the knee for additional support.

"He's actually feeling better today than [Thursday],'' said Farrell. "He's improved. This is going to take a little time. Obviously, it's going to take 15 days at a minimum. What further time is needed remains to be seen. But today was some good news -- (especially considering) what could have been.''

"At the time,'' added Benintendi, "I was nervous and didn't know what to expect.''

Farrell: Red Sox ‘optimistic’ Andrew Benintendi can return in 2016

Farrell: Red Sox ‘optimistic’ Andrew Benintendi can return in 2016

Red Sox manager John Farrell said rookie left fielder Andrew Benintendi sustained no further structural damage to his knee, other than the previously diagnosed sprain, after injuring it on the basepaths against the Rays.

Farrell said the team is optimistic that Benintendi, placed on the 15-day disabled list on Thursday, will be able to return before the end of the season. Watch the video for more. 

Friday’s Red Sox-Royals lineups: Wright returns from DL to start

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Friday’s Red Sox-Royals lineups: Wright returns from DL to start

Steven Wright makes his first start since Aug. 5 tonight when he returns from the disabled list to face the Kansas City Royals as the Red Sox open a three-game series at Fenway Park. 

Wright was activated from the 15-day DL Friday and right-handed reliever Heath Hembree was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket. Wright injured his right shoulder on a head-first dive back to second base when he was used as pinch-runner against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Aug. 6. 

The knuckleballer is 13-5 with a 3.01 ERA and had won five of his past six decisions before going on the DL. He’ll be opposed by right-hander Ian Kennedy (8-9, 3.58). The resurgent World Series champion Royals (66-61), in third place in the A.L. Central, have won nine of their past 10 after having their nine-game wining streak end on Wednesday. 

With Andrew Benintendi (knee sprain) on the DL, Brock Holt gets the start in left field for the Red Sox.

The lineups:

ROYALS

Jerome Dyson CF

Cheslor Cuthbert 3B

Lorenzo Cain RF

Eric Hosmer 1B

Kendrys Morales DH

Alex Gordon LF

Alcides Escobar SS

Drew Butera C

Raul Mondesi Jr. 2B

Ian Kennedy RHP

 

RED SOX

Dustin Pedroia 2B

Xander Bogaerts SS

David Ortiz DH

Mookie Betts RF

Hanley Ramirez 1B

Sandy Leon C

Jackie Bradley Jr. CF

Travis Shaw 3B

Brock Holt LF 

Steven Wright RHP