Middlebrooks eager to play after last season's injury

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Middlebrooks eager to play after last season's injury

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Will Middlebrooks' rookie season in the big leagues was one he won't forget.

It began well, with Middlebrooks taking over at third base from Kevin Youkilis, hitting .288 while adding 15 homers and 54 RBI. Then, just as it was getting going, Middlebrooks was struck on the hand by a pitch in early August and missed almost the final two months of 2012.

The team's last-place finish was bad enough, but being sidelined with an injury made it all the more frustrating.

Jokingly pronouncing himself "105 percent" healthy, Middlebrooks wants to put last season -- the injury and the 93 losses -- behind him.

"Everyone who was a part of it is (eager),'' he said, "and I had to sit back and just watch, so I feel like I'm even more (eager) at this point, ready to go. Sitting there in a cast, I couldn't hit, I couldn't throw. I don't know if that made it worse, but in my own mind, it did."

Middlebrooks spent the winter rehabbing from the broken hand, making his off-season a bit different than usual.

"The first month, I was really finishing up my rehab," said Middlebrooks. "But I took BP in New York (in the final series of the season); that was my goal at the end of the year, just so I could go into the off-season knowing I was ready to go, I can get my lifts in, have everything normal and and come to spring training ready to go."

He didn't start swinging until the week before Christmas.

"Everyone who's had a similar injury said 'You're going to go through an awkward stage where you don't really trust it,' " he said. "I'll give it a couple of weeks to get past that and get going."

Middlebrooks can remember a year ago at this time, when he felt a bit overwhelmed being in big league camp.

"Last year," said Middlebrooks, "I was stuck in the corner in here, wondering how long I'd be up here, kind of planning my way back down. Now, I have a job. Obviously, I come in with the mindset of trying to win that job. But it's completely different."

He knows he'll have be more consistent this season to avoid going backward. He played long enough for teams to put together a scouting report on him and make adjustments.

"The last month (of last season)," he said, "things completely changed. Pitchers' approach changed with me. It's just a cat-and-mouse game and you have to change along with it."

Porcello loses 10th game as Red Sox fall to Twins, 4-1

Porcello loses 10th game as Red Sox fall to Twins, 4-1

BOSTON -- Twins rookie lefty Adalberto Mejia is feeling more comfortable each time he takes the mound.

Mejia pitched 5 2/3 innings in his second straight scoreless start, Max Kepler hit a two-run homer and Minnesota rebounded from two consecutive losses against Boston to beat the Red Sox 4-1 on Wednesday night.

"He did a nice job," Twins manager Paul Molitor said about Mejia. "He had to kind of battle. It's kind of becoming a little bit of his MO to burn through pitches, but similarly to his last start, he kept walking off the field with zeros."

Kepler also had an RBI single, and Miguel Sano added an RBI double to help the Twins improve to 24-11 on the road.

Mejia (3-3) allowed five hits, struck out three and walked one in his 11th career start. On Friday night at Cleveland, he held the Indians to two hits over five innings in a victory.

"I feel calmer every time I'm out there," he said through a translator. "I think that's why I did better."

Brandon Kintzler got the final three outs for his 21st save.

Boston starter Rick Porcello (4-10) gave up four runs on six hits in six innings, striking out six and walking two. It was his 14th straight start going at least six innings, the AL's longest active streak.

"It's not like they're beating the cover off the ball," Porcello said. "It's just a couple things here and there that I've got to clean up. I'm not making excuses for myself. I definitely hold myself accountable for the loss tonight."

Red Sox manager John Farrell was back in the dugout after serving a one-game suspension Tuesday for poking umpire Bill Miller in the chest during an argument Saturday.

The Red Sox stranded 11 baserunners, and at least one in every inning. Farrell thought his team may have been pressing a bit.

"I thought there were times we might have expanded the strike zone a little bit, trying to make something happen," he said.

With Minnesota leading 2-0 in the sixth, Kepler lined his homer off the back of Boston's bullpen.

In the first, the Twins scored a pair of two-out runs when Sano hit his RBI double down the third-base line and scored on Kepler's broken-bat single.

Xander Bogaerts drove in Boston's run with a bases-loaded grounder in the seventh.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Twins: LHP Glen Perkins resumed throwing Tuesday after a setback last week following offseason shoulder surgery. Molitor said the club is still formulating a plan for him. He's been sidelined all season and pitched in just two games last year.

Red Sox: DH Hanley Ramirez missed his third straight game after getting hit by a pitch on the left knee Sunday. "He'll go through a full workday today," Farrell said. "He's feeling improved."

MATCHES OWN RECORD

Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia played his 98th consecutive error-less game, matching the best mark in club history he set for a second baseman from 2009-10.

LOOKS FAMILIAR

This season has started like 2015 for Porcello, the AL's reigning Cy Young Award winner.

Two years ago when he struggled badly, the righty lost nine of his initial 13 decisions and finished 9-15 with a 4.92 ERA.

ROSTER MOVE

Minnesota right-hander Phil Hughes was activated from the 10-day disabled list and LHP Craig Breslow was put on with rib cage soreness.

Hughes had been on the DL since complaining of a "dead feeling" in his pitching shoulder on May 21. He allowed one run in three innings during three rehabilitation appearances in Triple-A.

Molitor plans to use him out of the bullpen.

UP NEXT

Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson (4-5, 6.23 ERA) looks to continue his success in Fenway Park in the series finale Thursday. He's allowed only one run over 15 innings in two career starts.

Red Sox: LHP David Price (2-2, 4.76) has won his last five decisions against Minnesota, posting a 1.84 ERA.