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.

Francona misses second game this month because of health issues

Francona misses second game this month because of health issues

CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona missed Tuesday night's game against Texas after his second trip to the hospital this month.

The Indians said doctors for now have ruled out major health issues and Francona will be monitored the next several weeks.

Francona, 58, left Monday night's game because he wasn't feeling well. He spent several hours at Cleveland Clinic and underwent a series of tests.

Francona was released from the hospital on Tuesday and spent the rest of the day at home. He was expected to return to the dugout Wednesday when the Indians host the Rangers. Cleveland lost to Texas 2-1 on Tuesday.

Bench coach Brad Mills ran the team in Francona's absence. Cleveland began the day in first place in the AL Central after rallying for a 15-9 win Monday.

"Tito actually wanted to come back to the ballpark today," team president Chris Antonetti said Tuesday. "I told him he can't come back to the ballpark today. He only got a couple hours of sleep last night, so despite his desire to want to be here, I thought it was best that he gets some rest tonight and just come back tomorrow. His plan when he was getting released from the hospital was to come over here."

"I don't think he was exceedingly happy with me," Antonetti said with a laugh. "That's OK."

Francona was hospitalized June 13 following a game at Progressive Field. He underwent tests and was released a few hours later, returning to work the following night. Last August, he missed a game after experiencing chest pains but was back the next day.

"Thankfully, we've got some great doctors that are coordinating his care," Antonetti said. "They've done every test they can possibly imagine. They've all come back clean. They're now working to try to figure out what are some of those things that are causing him to not feel so well."

Francona, a close friend of Mills for several years, has retained his sense of humor through his health issues.

A statement released by the team Tuesday read, "Mr. Francona also wanted to express that medical personnel have not yet ruled out an allergy to Bench Coach Brad Mills."

Red Sox move into first place with rain-delayed, 9-3 win over Twins

Red Sox move into first place with rain-delayed, 9-3 win over Twins

BOSTON -- Drew Pomeranz wasn't expecting one rain delay, let alone two. But he got through both just fine.

Pomeranz pitched five solid innings, Chris Young hit a three-run homer and the Boston Red Sox moved into first place in the AL East with a 9-2 victory against the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night.

"It was kind of crazy. I didn't even realize it was supposed to rain at all tonight," Pomeranz said.

Pomeranz (7-4) had to sit through nearly an hour delay before the game started, then a 76-minute delay between the second and third as a thunderstorm slowly passed over Fenway Park. Despite the interruption, the left-hander held the Twins to an unearned run and four hits, struck out seven and walked none.

Christian Vazquez homered for the first time in more than a year, helping the Red Sox win consecutive games for the first time in nearly two weeks. Dustin Pedroia had three hits and scored twice.

Bench coach Gary DiSarcina managed the Red Sox with John Farrell serving a one-game suspension handed down by Major League Baseball.

"It's a lot of fun. It's a lot of adrenaline. I can see and appreciate the trials and the tribulations and the struggles John goes through daily and nightly," DiSarcina said. "I don't think I'm going to appreciate it until the season's over and I'm looking back at having a day like this."

The Red Sox capitalized on three errors by the Twins and moved a half-game ahead of the New York Yankees, who lost 4-3 to the White Sox on Tuesday.

"Long night," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I've seen some really good games here and I've seen some ugly ones, and that would fall in the latter category for sure."

Hector Santiago (4-7) returned for the Twins after a stint on the 10-day disabled list with a strained left shoulder. He allowed two runs and one hit in two innings.

"I feel really good right now. Obviously it's only two innings," Santiago said. "I feel like I had some really good velocity, really good acceleration on the off-speed (pitches)."

The only hit Santiago allowed was Vazquez's two-run homer in the second. The Red Sox led 6-1 when Young blew it open with a drive off one of the signs above the Green Monster in left.

"We just didn't do a lot of damage control after we got back out and start playing again," Molitor said.

Minnesota didn't score until the fifth when Jorge Polanco drew a one-out walk and Eddie Rosario and Byron Buxton followed with consecutive singles off Pomeranz, who was fading and faced six batters in the inning.

Eduardo Escobar added a solo homer for Minnesota in the eighth.

Boston hadn't won consecutive games since beating Philadelphia three in a row from June 12-14.

VERSATILE VAZQUEZ

Vazquez hit his first home run since May 1, 2016. It was his third career homer and all three have come with one man on base.

Vazquez also stole a base after walking in the fourth and caught the entire game. Vazquez threw out Rosario when he attempted to steal third after leading off the third with a double off the wall in left.

"He's been great behind the plate all year. He's been hitting the ball all year," Pomeranz said. "It was good to see him get that home run tonight."

SUSPENSION

Farrell was suspended for poking umpire Bill Miller in the chest during an animated argument over the weekend.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Twins: Santiago was making his first start since June 6 at Seattle. The Twins placed him on the 10-day DL the next day. To make room on the roster for his return, recently acquired RHP Dillon Gee was sent down to Triple-A Rochester.

Red Sox: DH Hanley Ramirez sat out his second straight game with a bruised left knee from a pitch that hit him Sunday.

UP NEXT

Twins: Rookie LHP Adalberto Mejia (2-3, 4.93 ERA) pitches in Fenway Park on Wednesday night for the first time.

Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (4-9, 5.00 ERA), the 2016 AL Cy Young Award winner, looks to win consecutive starts for the first time this season.