Middlebrooks keeping chin up during frustrating slump

Middlebrooks keeping chin up during frustrating slump

Middlebrooks keeping chin up during frustrating slump

DETROIT -- Will Middlebrooks arrived at Comerica Park on Thursday with a .196 batting average, which was hard to imagine, given that he was probably the bright spot of Boston's otherwise disappointing 2012 season.

Now, with his team winning, Middlebrooks is doing his best not to be down. But he admits it's tough.

"I know who I am, and of course it gets tough sometimes," said Middlebrooks. "You're not used to being a .200 hitter. And I know I'm not. It's not going to stay that way. It's frustrating sometimes. Anybody will tell you that."

Of late, Middlebrooks has faced another challenge -- not playing as regularly as he's accustomed to.

Jose Iglesias has blossomed this season, and manager John Farrell has been rotating him between short and third.

Middlebrooks was in the starting lineup against the Tigers on Thursday, with Iglesias subbing for Stephen Drew at shortstop.

But there were no guarantees about how many other games he would start in the remainder of this four-game series, or for the rest of the season for that matter.

"I've felt better [lately]," Middlebrooks said. "I've had a few hard-hit balls at people. I can't really do anything about that. I haven't been out there consistently, but that's understandable. I know the business side of this. Like I've told them before, I'm here to win. Iggy's swinging a hot bat right now and playing good defense. I know how that goes. I get it."

Middlebrooks has fought through rib and back woes this season and returned from the disabled list on June 10.

In the first 25 at-bats since his return, Middlebrooks is hitting .160 with a homer and four RBIs. Middlebrooks didn't say directly that the injuries are still nagging at him, but he did say his problems have been more physical than mental.

"Mentally I'm there," Middlebrooks said. "It's just been staying healthy. I've hit a couple of bad breaks. I understand that's how it goes. It's something I'm grinding through right now, and hopefully it will get better."

The one thing Middlebrooks knows is that all of his teammates have gone through similar ruts at some point in their baseball lives.

"It's just good to hear guys say, 'I've been there. You'll be out of it.' It's funny, we were watching video and there were probably 15 or 20 balls that are just hit right at people," said Middlebrooks. "You're doing your job. You're doing what you've got to do, and you're not getting results. If those fall, you're hitting .240, which still isn't great, but it isn't whatever I'm hitting right now."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.