BOSTON -- Will Middlebrooks made the first step toward returning to the Red Sox on Tuesday night as he played five innings at third base in a rehab start with Triple-A Pawtucket.
Middlebrooks, who has been out with a lower back strain, hit third and went 1-for-2 at the plate with a walk.
"I felt great," he said, according to the Providence Journal. "I really expected to come here and feel some tightness when I got done. I don't feel any, so that's a good sign."
He's expected to be in Pawtucket through Friday before returning to the Red Sox when he's eligible to be activated from the disabled list on Saturday.
"We'll re-evaluate where things are at that point," said Red Sox manager John Farrell.
Jose Iglesias has been filling in for Middlebrooks at third.