Middlebrooks sits for Indians finale

Middlebrooks sits for Indians finale
April 18, 2013, 4:30 pm
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CLEVELAND -- Mired in a 2-for-30 slump since leaving Toronto after the first weekend of the season, Will Middlebrooks found himself on the bench and out of the lineup in the final game of the Red Sox' brief three-game road trip Thursday night.

"I'm not going to get too down about it," said Middlebrooks, whose average has dipped to .182 for the season. "I understand it's part of the game. We're 15 games in, 60 at-bats maybe out of 600, so I'm not too worried about it."

Pedro Ciriaco was John Farrell's choice to replace Middlebrooks at third base Thursday night.

Middlebrooks has "played every inning of every game," pointed out Farrell. "He's had some times when he's taken ahold of the game and had a huge impact on it and there's been some times where he's been pulling off at times. This is more a chance to keep Ciri in the flow of things and give Will a little bit of a blow today."

Middlebrooks believes the slump is temporary and doesn't require any sort of massive adjustment at the plate.

"I'm not going to change my routine, I'm not going to chance my approach," said Middlebrooks. "I'm not going to change my at-bats. It's 30 at-bats. I'm not worried about it."

"He's an aggressive hitter; we know that," said Farrell. "I just think at times he might be a little aggressive on occasion and that might cause what we spoke of -- just pulling off a little -- just a hair.''

Middlebrooks would rather play through the skid, but understands a night out of the lineup could pay some dividends.

"Of course I want to play," he said. "I don't like sitting out. But I could see where this could help, just clear my head and get back it. The team's doing great, the team's picked me up, the pitching's picked me up. I told some of the guys, 'Hey, I'll go out and play defense for you guys -- just keep hitting.' They have my back. They've picked me up and I'm just doing what I can to help out."

He's spent time looking at video of his recent at-bats and can't detect any sort of obvious flaw in his swing or set-up.

"I don't see anything," he said. "I think you really dig yourself into a deeper hole when you start trying to change things, especially with your mechanics. I'm not even going to worry about that."

"Of late, there's been a tendency [for Middlebrooks] to kind of fly off or pull off a little bit," said Farrell. "When he's right, he's driving the ball into right-center field. We saw that in the last game in New York and it carried over into Toronto. Then on the homestand, there were times where he stayed in the middle of the field a little bit more.''     

The third baseman talked in spring training about having to match the adjustments that opposing pitchers are making with him and that hasn't changed.
"I'm not overmatched," he said. "I'm not getting beat be pitchers; I'm beating myself. So it's just something I've got get through and it won't be a problem."