Since his breakout season of 2012 ended abruptly after an inside pitch broke his wrist, Will Middlebrooks hasn’t been able to recapture the consistency that saw him become the Red Sox’ every day third basesman that season as a 23-year-old rookie.
On the DL since May 17 with a fractured finger, Middlebrooks had some reason for optimism on Wednesday, as he hit his first home run since beginning his rehab assignment in hopes of getting back to the Red Sox.
With two outs in the bottom of the fifth, Middlebrooks stepped in to face Rochester Red Wings’ southpaw Sean Gilmartin with Rochester holding a 5-2 lead. Middlebrooks unloaded on a fastball from Gilmartin, driving it deep and over the left field fence for a solo shot the cut PawSox’ deficit to two runs.
It was the only hit on the day for the Sox’ third baseman, who played DH for the PawSox on Wednesday, adding a walk in the seventh inning. But seeing he can still muscle the ball out of the ballpark is a step in the right direction for a player who some projected could be a 25-homer, 100-RBI hitter someday, but has also dealt with wrist and hand injuries.
In 11 rehab games with the PawSox, Middlebrooks is 8-for-35 with three walks. He was hitting .197 in 21 games for the Red Sox this season with two home runs and nine RBIs before he was placed on the DL.
Watch Middlebrooks’ home run below in video from MiLB.com.