Time is now for Middlebrooks

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Time is now for Middlebrooks

"If Youk returns in a week and is ready to go, he plays third base. He's been here. It's great that Will has come up and done a good job and we like him a lot and he's a big part of our future. But Youk's on the DL and he didn't lose his job because he got hurt." Ben Cherington

One of the crazier and most unfortunate aspects of following this Red Sox team is that you never know who or what to believe. For instance, the fact Ben Cherington presented this ridiculous argument to Sean McAdam, doesn't mean that it's actually Cherington's opinion.

This is the same guy who stood before us last December and swore up and down that he was 100 percent behind the hiring of Bobby Valentine, when we knew all along that he wanted Dale Sveum. At that moment, Cherington proved that he had no problem playing Larry Lucchino's game, and was content to carry the GM title, even if it didn't come with the typical GM authority. And for a guy in Cherington's position, I can't say I blame him.

Who's going to turn down a chance to be the GM of the Red Sox?

Still, it was obvious very early that while Cherington was the face of the front office, there were others and one especially slimy other pulling the strings. So, when he makes a statement like the one above, it's only and always fair to wonder:

Who's really behind all this?

I say this because, deep down, I don't want to believe that Ben Cherington actually thinks that the Red Sox owe anything to Kevin Youkilis. That given everything that's gone on with this team, that Cherington could possibly think that blindly handing the starting third baseman's job back to Youk is anything but idiotic.

I want to believe that when Cherington provided this quote, he was tied up and blind-folded to a pole in Larry Lucchino's basement, as LL squealed in the background: "You tell them what's going on, Cherington. I just ordered 15,000 Youuuuuk t-shirts for the pro shop, and hell if I'm not turning a profit!"

Is there another plausible explanation?

Will Middlebrooks represents everything this team needs. Youkilis is everything they need to get away from. That's not very hard to see.

Now I can understand if we're having this conversation in the middle of July, and Middlebrooks has since comeback to Earth and clearly a little green for the MLB game. At that point, sure, give Youk another try. But to just pull the plug on Middlebrooks before seeing it through?

That's insane.

But that's the Red Sox.

We have no clue who's making the decisions, but they never cease to disappoint.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Cardinals pull away late for 7-2 victory over Red Sox

Cardinals pull away late for 7-2 victory over Red Sox

The Cardinals broke open a close game with four runs in the last two innings against Red Sox relief prospect Chandler Shepherd and went on to a 7-2 exhibition victory over Boston yesterday at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers.

Red Sox-Cardinals box score

The loss dropped the Sox to 1-3 for the exhibition season.

Boston had jumped on top, 1-0, on an RBI single by Mitch Moreland in the bottom of the first, but St. Louis countered with two runs in the second and one in the third, all against starter Brian Johnson. It remained 3-1 until the Cards touched Shepherd for two runs in the eighth and two in the ninth. The Red Sox added their final run in the bottom of the ninth when catcher Jordan Procyshen, who spent last season at Single-A Salem, hit a sacrifice fly.

Moreland, Xander Bogaerts and Chris Young each had two hits for the Red Sox. who also got scoreless relief from Teddy Stankiewicz, Noe Ramirez, Robby Scott, Kyle Martin and Brandon Workman. It was Bogaerts' last game before leaving to compete for The Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic.

The Sox host the Yankees on Tuesday at 1:05 p.m.

Dustin Pedroia taking cues from Tom Brady to extend his career

Dustin Pedroia taking cues from Tom Brady to extend his career

Dustin Pedroia is no stranger to injuries. That's a big reason why he's no longer a stranger to the sometimes peculiar practices of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

In an interview on WEEI's "Bradfo Show," Pedroia told Rob Bradford that he's been taking cues from the five-time Super Bowl-winning QB to help extend his playing career and make his body healthier and more durable.

“I understand what he does and know what he does. I think it’s awesome,” Pedroia told Bradford. “There’s a reason why he’s successful at his age (39), and he looks better now than he did when he first came to the league. You have to be smarter as you get older and learn different styles -- the way to train and the way you take care of your body to be able to perform and stay on the field. It doesn’t matter what sport you’re playing. He’s definitely got that figured out.”

Pedroia, of course, played the entire 2013 World Series-winning season with a torn ligament in his thumb. He's battled through various other lower body and hand injuries over the past few seasons, as well. But in 2016, he had his best season in recent memory, posting his highest OPS since 2011, as WEEI notes.

Part of that is with his own take on the Brady approach -- which focuses more on pliability and resistance training than extensive, heavy weight lifting -- and a healthier overall lifestyle, something Brady is notoriously infamous for having.

"There’s tons of ways to take care of your body. It’s not just get in the weight room and throw weights around,” Pedroia explained. “As you get older, the human body can’t take the pounding if you’re going in there and power lifting. When you’re younger, you can handle some of that. But as you get older, you got to be smarter. Sometimes less is more -- whether that’s weight or reps or whatever. You’ve just got to be smart. And eating wise, that’s a big part of recovery. If you put the right foods in your body, you’ll heal faster if you’re injured or recover faster. It’s like a car, man. Put bad gas in, bro. It’s not going to be the same as good gas.”

He hopes the approach can, at the very least, keep him moving for quite some time.

“I plan on living until I’m 100," he said. "So we’re not even halfway home."