It's a little too early to say the Boston Red Sox and Will Middlebrooks are out of the woods. The 24-year third baseman tried to check his swing in the first inning of tonight's contest between the Sox and the Baltimore Orioles. In doing so, he felt soreness and had to leave the game. Fortunately, the injury may not be as serious as first thought says Steve Silva of the Boston Globe.
Will Middlebrooks stepped into the limelight last season when he proved himself as a possible replacement for long-time Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis. Youkilis was struggling at the plate with the Sox last season, and it seemed he and then-manager Bobby Valentine didn't get along. The team was looking for an out, and they got it with Middlebrooks' success. However, Middlebrooks broke his wrist not long after the Red Sox traded Youkilis to the Chicago White Sox.
Over the Monster: More on the Middlebrooks injury
That broken wrist made tonight's injury all the more frightening. Middlebrooks had clearly injured his right wrist, but after leaving the game and having his wrist examined by trainers, the problem was not nearly as serious as everyone expected.
"It's not as serious as we thought it was," Middlebrooks told reporters several innings after leaving the field in Sarasota. "It was just more of a scare, because of the area it was, right where I broke it last year. Just took a swing, obviously it looked pretty awkward, felt just as awkward as it looked, so it was more precautionary. I probably could have stayed in the game and been fine, but they just wanted to make sure everything was alright."
The Red Sox had no reason to take any chances with their new, every day third baseman. Regardless of the extent of the injury (it could have been as simply as a cramp and still likely resulted in the same treatment), the Red Sox were going to be as cautious as possible with Middlebrooks.
The check swing heard round the world sent an immediate shooting pain down the right side of Middlebrooks' wrist. Considering the fracture last season, there was immediate fear on Middlebrooks' part. That much was clear in the frustration he showed after leaving the game. Alex Speier of WEEI.com says Middlebrooks initially feared a reoccurrence of the injury he suffered last August. Fortunately, that was not the case.
"I was just frustrated. I've been busting my ass to get this thing back to where I can play. In my head, I was worried there might be a setback, and I don't think there's going to be," he said. "It worried me for sure, but I feel fine."
The Red Sox have not laid out plans for Middlebrooks to get an X-ray or MRI, but after he is evaluated further Thursday, that could change. Obviously, if Middlebrooks continues to feel pain or tightness in the wrist, the team may need to rule out a fracture. As it stands tonight, though, Middlebrooks should be fine, and he told reporters numerous times there were no plans for him to get X-rays.
Middlebrooks, a 5th round draft pick in 2007 by the Red Sox, made his Major League debut on May 2, 2012 last season. He managed to play in 75 games last year and posted an impressive .288/.325/.509 line. He hit 15 home runs and drove in 54 runs. The Red Sox love his pop, and they are hoping to see what he can do over the course of a full season this year. That all depends on how his wrist holds up.
Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe says Middlebrooks thought scar tissue from the original wrist injury could have been jarred when he checked his swing. Middlebrooks hopes to take batting practice Thursday, so all the panic may have all been for naught.