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When Middlebrooks returns, role uncertain

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BOSTON -- Stephen Drew is coming back, and Xander Bogaerts will move to third base. That much is known. Less clear is this: What becomes of Will Middlebrooks?

At the moment, Middlebrooks is on the disabled list as he recovers from a fractured right index finger.

Through his first 71 at-bats this season, Middlebrooks is hitting .197 with a .305 on-base percentage and a .629 OPS.

"We've got to get Will healthy first, and we've got to get Will back to game speed," said manager John Farrell. "Until that happens, we'll factor all that in once he does return to us."

One alignment Farrell hinted at is one in which Bogaerts would play short against lefties, opening up a spot for Middlebrooks at third.

This is the second season in a row Middlebrooks has struggled with health and productivity.

"We fully anticipate Will being here," said Farrell "If there are alignments to take advantage of individual strengths, we're going to do that. Without getting too far ahead of myself, that's the best I can tell you 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.

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