CLEVELAND — Will Middlebrooks doubled and hit three no-doubt home runs against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 7. In the eight games that followed, the Red Sox third baseman was 2 for 30 with one RBI.
Manager John Farrell decided on Thursday to give Middlebrooks a day off after watching him go 0 for 5 with two strikeouts on Wednesday. Pedro Ciriaco started at third base.
“He’s played every inning of every game. He’s had some games where he’s taken a hold of the game and had a huge impact and there’s been some times where he’s pulled off a little bit of times,” Farrell said.
The 24-year-old Middlebrooks said several times that he wasn’t concerned about the slump.
“I’m not going to get too down about it. It’s part of the game,” he said. “We’re 15 games in, 60 at-bats maybe out of about 600. I’m not too worried about it. I’m not going to change my routine; I’m not going to change my approach. I’m not going to change my bats.”
Middlebrooks has walked only three times in 59 plate appearances while striking out 18 times. Plate discipline is clearly an issue.
“He’s an aggressive hitter; we know that. I don’t want to say it’s as deep as pitch selection. I just think at times he might get a little over aggressive on occasion,” Farrell said.
• When David Ortiz is activated off the disabled list on Friday, rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. will be optioned to Triple A Pawtucket and play center field there, assistant general manager Mike Hazen said.
Bradley will play occasionally in the corners in case the Red Sox have a need at those positions later in the season.
Bradley is 3 for 31 with 12 strikeouts. But he also drew six walks, scored five runs and drove in three runs. Bradley got on base eight times in the first four games of the season, contributing significantly to three victories.
• John Lackey walked off the mound in Toronto on April 6 clutching his right arm. On Monday, he’s scheduled to throw four innings for Double A Portland.
What looked like a serious injury at first proved to be a strained bicep muscle and Lackey is ready to get back on the mound. He will throw in the bullpen before Friday’s game at Fenway Park and then start his rehabilitation assignment.
• Lefthander Franklin Morales will follow Lackey to the mound on Monday. He pitched three innings for Single A Greenville on Wednesday to start his rehab assignment. Morales is returning from a spring training back injury.
• Joel Hanrahan felt some soreness in his right hamstring when he pitched from flat ground on Thursday. So he will not get back on the mound for at least another few days.