With the keys to third base handed over to him, Will Middlebrooks added some individual hardware Monday when he was named the American League Player of the Week.
"A lot of people do it one time,'' joked Sox manager Bobby Valentine when asked about the AL weekly honor. ``That's what they always say when someone hits a home run. They'll go over to him and say, 'Anyone can hit one in a game.' But it's a nice honor, he had a great week.''
Middlebrooks received the award one day after Kevin Youkilis was dealt to the White Sox, freeing up Middlebrooks to become Boston's everyday third baseman, a move that seemed inevitable given the way the rookie has emerged this season.
"I like the ways he's handled the days where he didn't perform particularly well, as well as the days he has performed well and the days when he's sat out,'' Valentine said. "I like the way he DH'd yesterday, the way there was a real calm approach in the duguout and at the plate for a guy who's never DH'd before.
"I think he's a work in progress,'' Valentine said. ``But I think the growing is going to be fun for us all to watch, not without pain though, I'm sure.''
In six games last week, Middlebrooks went 10 for 16 with three doubles, three home runs, 10 RBIs and six runs scored.
"I'm happy, I'm honored," Middlebrooks said. "But at the same time, it's one week. Hopefully I can keep it going."
Since being called up from AAA Pawtucket, Middlebrooks is hitting .326 with 34 RBIs, nine homers and a .949 OPS, solidifying himself as the definitive third baseman of the future for the Sox.
He was awarded a watch, courtesy of the company Game Time, in recognition of the honor, which he said "wasn't even in the back of my mind."