Third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who has been on the disabled list with a fractured right index finger since May 17, began his rehabilitation assignment Saturday with Triple-A Pawtucket. He served as the designated hitter, going 1-for-3.
But Middlebrooks may have a new position when he comes back from his rehab. Manager John Farrell said Sunday morning the Red Sox will have Middlebrooks begin working in the outfield to increase his versatility.
Moving Middlebrooks could help the Sox outfield production, which has been woeful this season. As a unit the Sox outfield is hitting .231 with a .639 OPS, 10 home runs, and 76 RBI entering Sunday.
The move could also enhance Middlebrooks’ value as the July 31 trade deadline approaches. With the addition of shortstop Stephen Drew, Xander Bogaerts move from short to third, and the emergence of Brock Holt, at-bats may be difficult to find for Middlebrooks.
Since being drafted in the fifth round in 2007, Middlebrooks, who turns 26 Sept. 9, has appeared in 185 major league games at third base, two at second base, and one at first. This season, limited by injuries, he has appeared in just 21 games, all at third. In parts of seven minor league seasons, he played strictly third base, batting .197/.305/.324.
In 686 major league at-bats he has hit 34 home runs.