At first, Will Middlebrooks thought the ball hit his batting glove.
That's what he hoped, at least.
But the "crunch," as Middlebrooks described it, that he heard wasn't the velcro glove. It was a bone in
his right wrist, fractured by a fastball thrown by Cleveland Indians reliever Esmil Rogers in the ninth
inning Friday night.
And with that, Middlebrooks' impressive rookie season likely came to an end.
"It's horrible," Middlebrooks said. "There's a month and a half left, and I'm stuck being a cheerleader.
We all want to win games here, and I can't do anything to help now."
But here's the good news: Middlebrooks' fracture is non-displaced, and so, it won't require surgery.
It's little consolation for Middlebrooks, though, especially after he finally overcame a nagging hamstring
strain and belted a pair of three-run homers last week to continue to cement his status as the Red Sox's
young third baseman of the future.
"(The hamstring) was just one of those things that really wouldn't go away and really over the past two
or three weeks, it's been a lot better, and then this happens," Middlebrooks said. "It's just part of the
game. Things like this are going to happen. Just roll with it."
If he heals quickly, there's an outside chance Middlebrooks could return by the season's final week. But
the Red Sox, who beat the Indians 14-1 Sunday, aren't planning on him playing again until next season, and
if that's the case, he made a glowing first impression after being called up from Triple-A Pawtucket in
Middlebrooks is batting .288 with 15 homers, 54 RBI and an .835 on-base plus slugging percentage. And
although the Red Sox never planned for him to even be in the majors until September, he supplanted Kevin
Youkilis as the team's primary third baseman. Youkilis was traded on June 24.
But Middlebrooks is not yet ready to reflect on his rookie successes.
"It's hard to say now because I want to win, I want to be in the playoffs," Middlebrooks said. "Once the
season is over with, I can look back and be happy with what I did. Could I have done better? Sure. Is there
stuff to build on for next year? Absolutely. But the ultimate goal is winning and getting to the playoffs
and the postseason, and that's what we're working on right now."
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