PAWTUCKET – Will Middlebrooks spoke so softly that it felt as if the PawSox clubhouse had been transformed into a church.
The struggling third baseman didn’t attempt to mask his disappointment regarding a season that has hardly gone according to plan. For the moment, finding a silver lining in the fact that he was sent down is an impossible endeavor. It probably didn’t ease Middlebrooks’ frustration that Wednesday’s Red Sox-Rockies’ game was being featured on the clubhouse’s main television.
“We know the situation. We know what’s going on,” said Middlebrooks prior to beginning what hopes is a brief stay with Pawtucket. “It’s tough right now. I’m trying to take the positives out of this.”
Middlebrooks’ parents flew in from Texas on Tuesday. Call it perfect timing considering the tough conversation that had taken place in Red Sox manager John Farrell’s office earlier in the day.
“It was a tough day,” said a somber Middlebrooks. “It’s never fun.”
It was appropriate that a fan yelled out “relax” as Middlebrooks dug into the batter’s box in the bottom of the first inning Wednesday night. Ever since Jose Iglesias demonstrated that his bat deserves to be in the lineup on a regular basis, Middlebrooks has been caught in the crosshairs.
On one hand, his struggles were so profound that the idea of Farrell continuing to trot him out there seemed far-fetched. Yet at the tender age of 24, Middlebrooks is far too young to sit on a big-league bench and play a complimentary role.
The only solution: send Middlebrooks to the minors, where regular playing time is guaranteed. Mind you this isn’t an indictment that Boston is throwing in the towel and giving up on a player that still figures prominently in team’s future plans. Much like the Red Sox did with Daniel Bard a season ago, Middlebrooks was optioned to Pawtucket in order to get himself back on track in an environment that doesn’t contain the glare of the big leagues.
The sooner that the shock of being back in the minors wears off for Middlebrooks, the sooner he can go about the task at hand. Of course, staying away from specific timetables, which arguably was Bard’s downfall during last summer’s longer-that-expected stay with the PawSox, is also for the best.
“When the time’s right, I’ll be back. I can’t put a time limit, and neither can (the Red Sox),” Middlebrooks said. “They made it clear that they weren’t worried about results. I think results come with playing well and doing things right.
“I know that this isn’t going to last. This isn’t forever,” Middlebrooks continued.
Wednesday marked Middlebrooks’ first game action since last Thursday. “I need to get back in the habit of playing every day and getting my body right.”
Middlebrooks concluded his three-minute press gathering by taking a page out of Arnold Schwarzenegger in “The Terminator.” He’ll be back.
“I don't plan on being down here very long. That's not my plan, but a lot of it is out of my hands,” said Middlebrooks. “I want to play well and show them what they want to see.”
EXTRA BASES: Xander Bogaerts has been named to the All-Star Futures Game for the second straight year. “Anytime you get selected to something, it’s definitely an honor. We’re just going to have fun and I’m happy to be a part of it,” said the shortstop. This year’s Futures Game will take place Sunday, July 14 at New York’s Citi Field. … Reliever Pedro Beato rejoined Pawtucket on Wednesday after spending Tuesday with Boston. … The PawSox will stage their annual Armed Services Night prior to Thursday’s game. The first 3,000 fans that pass through the turnstiles will receive a camouflage PawSox t-shirt. … Thursday’s pitching matchup features Rubby De La Rosa (1-1, 2.54 ERA) for Pawtucket and Kyle Lobstein (NR) for Toledo.
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03