However, manager Bobby Valentine joked that Adrian Gonzalez was actually the one getting the day off. Instead of playing in right field for the third straight game, Gonzalez moved back to first base. Kevin Youkilis played third for the first time since coming off the disabled list.
Middlebrooks will start on Saturday, which means Gonzalez could play right field at Fenway Park for the first time in his career.
When the Red Sox were in Baltimore earlier this week, Valentine sounded as if he had some hesitancy about having Gonzalez play right field at Fenway, where there are unique angles and a lot of ground to cover. But watching the way Gonzalez aptly played the position on the road might have helped change Valentine's mind.
"Well, some people have had that hesitation and I'm not sure how to read it," Valentine said. "As I told you, I think he positions himself extremely well and he gets a good jump on the ball. Does that make up for some of the [lack of] foot speed? I'm not sure. All I know is thus far, when the ball is hit, we do a pretty good job of retrieving it and the opportunities he's had have led me to believe that he can catch it if he can get to it."
As for Middlebrooks, he will continue to stay in the mix on a fairly regular basis as long as he is on the Major League roster.
Boston's top prospect had played 18 games in 18 days before Thursday's team off-day.
"I think it's a nice time to do it," Valentine said. "Get two in a row [including Thursday's off-day] and come back fresh. He'll be in there tomorrow, playing tomorrow."
At this point of his development, Valentine doesn't imagine he'll play Middlebrooks anywhere but third base.
"I keep asking if there's another position and I keep hearing no," said Valentine. "Other than DH, I'm not sure what that would be. We have experimented with some things though, so I wouldn't say it's out of the realm of possibility, but it hasn't been discussed in a light that has inspired me."