Saddened Middlebrooks forced to be Sox 'cheerleader'

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Saddened Middlebrooks forced to be Sox 'cheerleader'

CLEVELAND It was a pretty grisly revelation, but Will Middlebrooks wasnt afraid to share it.

He thinks he actually heard an audible crunch when a 96-mph fastball cracked a bone in his right wrist in Friday nights win over the Cleveland Indians. He said he wasnt sure whether it was the sound of his bone cracking or his batting glove Velcro fastener coming loose.

But there was a sickeningly audible sound in the press box Friday that simply wouldnt echo from a batting glove, and usually signals baseball thumping against unprotected bone.

It was a stomach-turning sound that signaled the end of his marvelous rookie season with the Red Sox, and it marks the first significant injury of his professional baseball career.

Its just broken. Ill have to see how it goes over the next few weeks," Middlebrooks said. "Hopefully it only takes me a month to come back, but well see how it goes. They said it should heal up fine, but recovery times vary so well see how it goes.

I almost felt it crunch. I dont know it was my wrist or the Velcro on my batting glove. This is horrible. Theres a month-and-a-half left and Im stuck being a cheerleader. We all want to win games here, and I cant do anything to help now.

Middlebrooks will have to be a spectator waiting for his wrist to heal over the next couple of months, and wont be a factor in Bostons ultimate fate when it comes to the playoffs.

Hell be missed as Bobby Valentine tries to slide guys like Danny Valencia, Pedroia Ciriaco and Nick Punto into the void left by Middlebrooks absence, and the Sox offense will need to step it up as it did in Sundays 14-1 win.

Hes our third baseman of the future, said Adrian Gonzalez. He was off to a great year and were all going to have to pick up the slack for him.

But the young third baseman wont need surgery to repair the injury, and hes optimistic he can pick right back up next year with everything hes learned during an impressive first tour around the major leagues.

Its hard to say now because I want to win and I want to be in the playoffs," Middlebrooks said. "But I think once the season is over with I can be happy with what I did. Could I have done better? Sure. Do I have things to build on for next season? Absolutely.

I learned a ton. The experience you gain playing every day and being around these guys every day. Even going out to dinner you talk about baseball and you learn a lot from guys like Adrian and Pedroia. I know I can compete up here now. I feel like I have a job and I have a spot here. Thats a big deal for me.

Perhaps the only thing left for Middlebrooks aside from cheerleading is waiting to see how much Rookie of the Year support he gets once the season is over. He probably could have put together some pretty compelling numbers with another six weeks of regular at-bats, but .288.325.509 in 75 games with 15 home runs and 54 RBI is nothing to sneeze at.

With a full spring training and the swaggering confidence that hell be the starting third baseman for the Red Sox to start next season, the future will be very bright for a young building block that will be in Boston for a long, long time.

First impressions: Owens improves, Scott scuffles

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First impressions: Owens improves, Scott scuffles

NEW YORK -- First impression from Red Sox' 5-1 loss to the Yankees:

* Henry Owens looked improved over earlier starts.

The lefty took the place of Drew Pomeranz Thursday night and pitched into the fifth inning, allowing two runs on four hits.

Talent evaluators believe that Owens has the stuff necessary to be a back-end starter in the big leagues if -- and that's a big qualifier -- he can command his pitches.

Alas, that's often been an issue for Owens, who averaged 3.4 walks per nine innings last season in Boston and, in four starts earlier this season, a bloated 9.3 walks per nine innings.

On Thursday night, Owens showed far better control, issuing just two walks. Further, he managed to pitch ahead in the count, giving him an advantage against the New York lineup. And mixing his changeup and fastball, he fanned six.

* Robby Scott had a bad night at a bad time.

Scott's in the mix to make the Red Sox post-season roster as a lefty specialist, competing against the likes of Fernando Abad.

He had been effective in most of his previous outings, with no runs allowed in six appearances with five strikeouts and a walk.

But brought in to face Brian McCann with runners on first and second and one out in the sixth, he yielded a single to center.

After getting Aaron Hicks on a flyout, he walked rookie Tyler Austin to force in a run, then heaved a wild pitch that scored another run before retiring Brett Gardner on a flyout.

Keeping in mind that Scott wouldn't be asked to face that many righthanders were he to make the post-season roster, Thursday's outing wasn't helpful in making his case.

* Yoan Moncada is gone for now.

The Red Sox announced that the rookie third baseman had traveled to Fort Myers to prepare for his upcoming assignment in the Arizona Fall League next month.

Expectations were high for Moncada when he joined the Red Sox on Labor Day weekend in Oakland and when he collected multiple hits in each of his first two starts, it appeared as though he would get most of the playing time at third for the remainder of the season.

But not long after, Moncada began chasing breaking balls out of the strike zone and looking very much overmatched at the plate. HE struck out in nine consecutive at-bats.

That doesn't mean that Moncada won't someday -- likely in the not-too-distant future -- be a very good major league player. But it is a reminder of how big a jump it is to go from Double A.

And, it served to point out how remarkable Andrew Benintendi has been in making that same jump.