Notes: Middlebrooks out for 'precautionary reasons'

Notes: Middlebrooks out for 'precautionary reasons'
May 11, 2014, 3:15 pm
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(AP Photo)

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Will Middlebrooks, who was struck on the right hand by a pitch Saturday night but appeared fine Sunday morning, was later scratched from the Red Sox lineup following batting practice, for what the team termed "precautionary reasons.''

Middlebrooks was replaced by Jonathan Herrera at third.

About 90 minutes before Middlebrooks was scratched, John Farrell said Middlebrooks was "good to go. He's a little bit sore, but we don't expect it to be a restriction at any point today.''

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After a year in which they were one of the most efficient teams in the game when it came to stealing bases, the Red Sox are finding things very different in 2014.

In Saturday night's 8-3 win over Texas, the Red Sox were 0-for-2 in stolen base tries, bringing their success rate for the season to a poor 50 percent -- 11-for-22.

That number is enough to get manager John Farrell thinking.

"Not good, is how I look at it,'' said Farrell. "We've had some personnel turnover (losing Jacoby Ellsbury) that's directly impacted our base-stealing ability. (But) the efficiency rate is alarming, almost to the point of saying 'We need to shut down our running game,' unless it can be determined by us that we can be 100 percent sure or more than 50 percent sure of success.

"We're always going to look to take the extra base when we can, but the straight steal is something where we've given away far too many outs on the bases.''

Ellsbury's absence aside, the Red Sox seem to be making bad decisions about when to run. And even players who ordinarily have had a high success  rate -- Dustin Pedroia, for one example -- have been getting thrown out.

Perhaps the element of surprise, which was in play last year, is a factor?

"Possibly,'' allowed Farrell. "But when you look at the success rate of near 90 percent last year, teams are defending against that more. That's had an impact. We still have a threshold where we feel like we can be successful and we'll still look to take advantage of that, but we've got to be cognizant of what's taken place as well.''

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The Red Sox have another off-day Monday, their third in the span of eight days. Days off are always welcome, but this many in a short period of time is unusual.

"The tough thing is when you compare it to the stretch we're going to embark on after Monday,'' said Farrell, "where it's 37 games in 38 days (starting May 20). You kind of wonder where's the logic. Sometimes that might not prevail. I don't worry about it, but it's not ideal. But at the same time, the schedule is given to you and you can't change it. If it were our preference, yeah, we'd like to spread out (the off days) more.''

Farrell added that the off-days bunched together impacts pitchers more than position players.

"To me, I think it's the pitchers who suffer more from the time down,'' he said, "and the lack of touch-and-feel and rhythm and time down more than the everyday player.''