Originally posted on Ted's Army  |  Last updated 6/24/12

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His job security at third base is now as tight as Dustin Pedroia [stats]’s at second base and Adrian Gonzalez’ at first.

Youkilis’ whereabouts no longer have an impact on the daily lineup decisions manager Bobby Valentine has to make.

Middlebrooks is the Red Sox third baseman now, and he is the Red Sox third baseman of the future.

His effort last night, when he went 3-for-4 with a double, home run and two RBI, has become almost standard fare for the rookie. Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels are getting their deserved praise for the daily wonders they produce, but Middlebrooks — batting .331, slugging .592, on-base percentage of .368, and with nine home runs — is not that far behind.

He’s the first American Leaguer with at least 33 RBI in his first 40 games since Wally Joyner (38) in 1986 for the Angels.

[...]

“I don’t care, I really don’t,” Middlebrooks said. “I’m here to play baseball, I’m not here to be an analyst. That’s you guys. I’ll let you do your job, I’ll do mine.”

(Video) CSNNE: Middlebrooks continues to rake

(Text) Herald: Will Middlebrooks in to stay

This was inevitable. Every night, Will Middlebrooks keeps piling on more reason to forget about giving Youk any more time in the lineup.

There is nothing that doesn't impress me about Will Middlebrooks. He spent the entire 2010 season in Single-A, and just a season removed, he has booted Kevin Youkilis from his post. Oh, and if you don't already know this, he is still 23. I like what the future has in store.

Related: Globe: In position for a change

On Page 2, Pedroia is ready to be done with his slump

“He’ll get hot,’’ Valentine said then. “Hotter than a firecracker.’’

Consider it done.

Pedroia broke an 0-for-11 drought with a 3-for-4 performance in Boston’s 8-4 win over Atlanta Saturday night, silencing those who called for Valentine to consider dropping Pedroia in the batting order and those who wondered why the Sox never put him on the disabled list when a torn muscle in his right thumb caused him to miss six games.

“Hits are coming,’’ Pedroia said. “You guys have seen it. Every year I go through a time where, like everybody else does, I have a tough time. But when it rains, it pours. It can go from cold to real hot.’’

[...]

“The last few days I’ve swung the bat good, and I just didn’t get any hits,’’ Pedroia said. “I think that’s the tough part to deal with mentally, when you have good at-bats and don’t get any hits. You just have to know that they’re coming, and they will.

“I’m always in a good frame of mind. I just try to know that, in the end, I’ll be right there where I normally am. You guys saw it last year and the year before and the year before. Everyone goes through tough times. It’s how you bounce out of it and once you find your swing, you just take off.’’

Globe: Pedroia ready to leave slump behind

So, is it time to disregard the thumb issue? Was it just a slump and not the thumb that was the cause of the 0-for-4, and 0-for-5 performances? If so, we should all breathe a sign of relief, because thoughts of Nick Punto in at 2nd long-term was causing awful stomach pains.

The real test will be consistency. If Dustin can consistently rack up multi-hit games or just get good swings in, it will ensure he can play through the thumb injury. There is no doubt that part of the slump could be blamed on the injury. The timing factor at the plate was directly related to getting comfortable with and without the brace for a period of time.

Now, we just sit back and watch to see if Pedey can make something of this coming week.

The rest of the links:

Herald: Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez lead Sox | Chipper Jones keeps eye on Will Middlebrooks | Kevin Youkilis bides time as trade looms | Youkilis deal expected soon | WEEI: Closing time: Franklin Morales, Will Middlebrooks dominate Braves | CSNNE: Morales.balanced offense beat Braves, 8-4

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