Sox notes: Middlebrooks, Pedroia out

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Sox notes: Middlebrooks, Pedroia out

BOSTON -- One day after going 2-for-4 with two RBI and a home run, Will Middlebrooks is getting the night off on Thursday against the Detroit Tigers at Fenway Park.
Adrian Gonzalez is at first, hitting third, and Kevin Youkilis is at third, hitting fifth.
Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said that his reasoning revolves around the upcoming trip to Toronto, and the days off he knows he's going to give Gonzalez and Youkilis on the astroturf.
"We're going to astroturf tomorrow" said Valentine. "There's going to be a limited number of days where I think Adrian should be out in that outfield on the astroturf."
So why not Middlebrooks at third instead of Youkilis?
"Because we're going to astroturf and Youk's not going to play all three games on astroturf," said Valentine. "So, he's going to get his day off there."
Dustin Pedroia (thumb) is out of the lineup for third straight game, and Valentine hinted beforehand that Middlebrooks could potentially play shortstop if Mike Aviles ever had to move over to second base in Pedroia's absence.
"Middlebrooks also was a good high school shortstop, so he can play another position," said Valentine. "If something happens, he's going to take a grounder at shortstop, because Mike Aviles has played second."
As for Pedroia's health, Valentine said it's "more of the same."
"The swelling is down more, and he's a little louder," said Valentine. "But he's better."
Valentine said that they asked Pedroia not to swing the bat. And as of Thursday afternoon, he hadn't seen Pedroia going against their wishes. Not at Fenway at least.
"I was on my bike today," said Valentine. "I saw three batting cages within three miles of here. But I had to go check and see where he was this morning. He hasn't hit here."
In Pedroia's absence, Nick Punto has taken over at second base, and will do so again on Thursday night against the Tigers, for the third-straight game.
Punto's gone 1-for-8 with four strikeouts in the last two games, and hits ninth on Thursday.
That's probably why Punto was taking early batting practice at Fenway before the game. But he was hitting against a batting machine, which Valentine said was probably done to get his timing back on breaking balls.
"What I see is a lack of timing, and, that's exactly what you should see," said Valentine. "The only way to really time this big-league stuff is by doing it. And obviously, he hasn't done it very much. I expect the more pitches he sees, the closer he's going to come to getting the timing he needs to make contact."
Valentine also said that the Red Sox don't have a plan to bring an extra infielder with them to Toronto after Thursday's game, but he "suspects" they will add another infielder before the weekend is over.

--Valentine gave several injury updates before Thursday's game ay Fenway Park against the Detroit Tigers:
Aaron Cook (knee laceration) threw in the bullpen on Thursday, and if he gets through that without any hiccups, then they'll place him on a pitching program to figure out when he'll begin pitching again. But they'll wait and see how the wound reacts to pitching off a mound.
Daisuke Matsuzaka (elbowneck) will pitch tonight for Triple-A Pawtucket and will then stay there to do his bullpen work.
Darnell McDonald (oblique) will play throughout the weekend in Triple-A "to make sure he's fit and sound," according to Valentine.
Jacoby Ellsbury (shoulder) is working out at Fenway, and according to Valentine, Ellsbury says he feels great.
Cody Ross (foot) has no pain in his fractured left foot, with or without the walking boot. He'll have another MRI soon, to determine the amount of healing.
Andrew Bailey (thumb) is now throwing up to 90 feet.
Chris Carpenter (elbow) is now throwing up to 120 feet.
Ryan Kalish (shoulder) is currently playing in Double-A Portland "with no ill effects of his medical woes," according to Valentine.

McAdam: Amid the champagne flowing, a focus on Farrell’s fight

McAdam: Amid the champagne flowing, a focus on Farrell’s fight

NEW YORK - Scenes from a celebrating clubhouse, late Wednesday night:

*As champagne flowed and was sprayed to every virtually corner of the visitor's clubhouse, plots were being hatched.

Some mischevious players gathered to plot out their plan of attack and select a new victim.

Once all teammates had been targeted, the focus shifted to others -- preferably the nicer dressed visitors.

Principal owner John Henry, dressed in a suit, was spared - both out of decorum, and, one senses, self-preservation. In past years, someone like Kevin Millar might have entertained such a notion, but this group lacks that same sort of bold figure.

Then, finally, the group spied manager John Farrell being interviewed across the way. The group -- mostly pitchers -- assembled and then circled the manager before finally dumping bottle after bottle of champagne on Farrell's head.

But this display went beyond prank. There was a genuine affection for the manager as the surrounding players whooped and hollared and the the bubbly flowed.

"He's a fighter,'' remarked Mookie Betts. "He instilled that in us. You fight to win.''

Torey Lovullo, who managed the team in Farrell's absence last year and has been a close friend for years, was overcome with emotion.

"I told him I loved him,'' Lovullo said. "For what he's done, to come out on the other side health-wise....he's the leader of this team. It's very satisfying for all of us that have been behind him.''

Players messed his hair, patted him on the back, and Farrell, with a huge smile, stood and -- literally -- soaked it in.

For the past few days, Farrell had gone to great lengths to turn the focus away from his personal story -- one that saw him beat back cancer a year ago -- and turn it back to the players.

Hours before the clinching, Farrell had deflected a few questions about his own story, insisting he wasn't the centerpiece to what had taken place.

But for a few minutes Wednesday night, he was.

 

*While there were prominent veterans celebrating a division title — from 40-something David Ortiz and Koji Uehara to team greybeards such as Dustin Pedroia -- it was hard not to notice the number of young players under 26 who form the Red Sox’ foundation.

Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts, Eduardo Rodriguez, Andrew Benintendi and Yoan Moncada are all young and still improving.

With Ortiz headed to retirement, Uehara eligible for free agency and uncertainty surrounding others, it's clear that the young core will form the nucleus of Red Sox teams for years to come.

The organization's hope is that that same group will help ensure against the up-and-down trajectory of recent seasons -- last, first, last, last and now first again.

"I think the way baseball's going these days,'' Henry told the Boston Herald, "if you don't have good young players, you're in trouble.''

"Looking ahead,'' added Pedroia, "we've got a lot of young players who are just going to get better.''