BOSTON – Since being called up from Triple-A Pawtucket on Aug. 10, Will Middlebrooks has gone 7-for-18, batting .389 with a .976 OPS and a five-game hitting streak. In that stretch he has raised his average from .192, where it stood when he was demoted on June 25, to .208, his highest mark since the same number on May 22.
“He looks more relaxed in the box, that’s probably the biggest thing that stands out right now,” said manager John Farrell. “Prior to he being optioned back I think there was a tendency to try to make up for some previous at-bats. That’s not the case [now]. He’s playing with a little bit more free of mind. He’s taken a number of good passes while at the plate, and he gives us the potential to lengthen out the lineup with a power bat in the bottom part of the order.
“So he just looks more understanding of what not only his checkpoints are but how can he address a certain pitch, particularly on the outside part of the plate.”
And with Mike Napoli being dropped in the order, there exists the possibility of Middlebrooks being moved up to the fifth spot, behind David Ortiz.
“That possibility certainly exists,” Farrell said. “He’s going to tell us when he’s ready. But as we’ve seen of late, the bottom half of the lineup has got some -- we’ve fluctuated a little bit trying to ride the hot hand and when the matchups might present themselves to be an advantage. So, yeah, that could happen in time.”
- Asked his thoughts on whether Alex Rodriguez should be playing, Farrell replied:
“I think we’re all certainly well aware of the situation he’s in and clearly is within his rights to appeal. And that’s really all I’ve got to say about it. He’s taking advantage of the process that is clearly his right. So we’ll see how that all plays out.”
- Asked his thoughts on the situation involving Jerry Remy’s son, Jared Remy who was charged with in the death of his girlfriend Jennifer Martel, Farrell replied:
“Well, it’s an on-going investigation. Our thoughts, our prayers, and our sympathies are certainly with the Martel family. Other than that, that’s kind of where it stays.”
- After getting Thursday off, Napoli is back in the starting lineup tonight for the start of a three-game set at Fenway against the Yankees. Napoli is 7-for-17, batting .412, against Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte, Friday’s starter. But Napoli also has 159 strikeouts, second in the American League.
“We’re living with it,” Farrell said. “Strikeouts have been part of his career, part of his track record. But it’s the trade-off with the power. And we’re certainly willing to accept that. Had that not been the case he might not be here. So we know the type of player he is and we’re going to ride with him.”
Asked if he knew when Napoli might get on a hot streak, Farrell replied:
“Geez, if I knew that we’d go look for some wallets out here in the parking lot.”
- Left-hander Franklin Morales has not appeared in a game since June 22 after being activated from the DL on Aug. 10. Farrell said lack of opportunity has been the reason.
“It has,” Farrell said. “We’ve had him up a couple of times and have yet to get him in a game. So whether it’s been matchup or just that we’ve gone deeper in the game with starters, and then with the ability to have multiple-inning relievers, the opportunity just hasn’t presented itself as it might otherwise.”
Farrell said he would look for “lower-leverage” situations to work Morales into a game, in fairness to the lefty.
- Farrell said he has not yet talked with Ortiz about how the designated hitter would be used in upcoming interleague games in San Francisco and Los Angeles beginning Monday. Asked if Napoli’s struggles might effect that decision, Farrell replied:
“It hasn’t been marked out on the calendar yet where David and when he’ll be starting. We wanted to get through this last road trip before starting to address some of those things and not get too far ahead of ourselves.”
- Catcher David Ross, who is on the 60-day DL with a concussion, is scheduled to continue his rehab assignment, catching nine innings both Friday and Saturday with Pawtucket. He remains on pace to be activated during the upcoming road trip, as planned. In four rehab games, two each with Pawtucket and Double-A Portland, he is 1-for-8 with a double, an RBI, two walks, and has thrown out the only runner attempting to steal.