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Middlebrooks working his way back at Triple-A

Red Sox infielder continues progression with solid game in Pawtucket's win

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Middlebrooks working his way back at Triple-A play video for Middlebrooks working his way back at Triple-A

PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- One half of Boston's latest rehab program was completed when Shane Victorino was activated from the disabled list by the Red Sox for a start against Kansas City at Fenway Park.

But Will Middlebrooks, who is on the disabled list with a fractured right index finger, is continuing what is his fourth rehab assignment this season with the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox.

Middlebrooks played third base and went 2-for-4 in Pawtucket's 3-1 victory over the Buffalo Bisons on Saturday night at McCoy Stadium.

In three at-bats against left-hander Raul Valdes, Middlebrooks beat out an infield hit between shortstop and third in the first inning; looked at a third strike in the third; and smashed an 0-1 pitch over the center-field fence for a solo home run in the fifth that went almost 400 feet.

And in his lone at-bat against a right-hander, Chad Jenkins, Middlebrooks ripped a liner to center in the seventh, only to be robbed of a hit on a diving catch by Kevin Pillar.

"I think the more pitches he sees the better he's going to get," PawSox manager Kevin Boles said. "You saw the impact to center field on the home run. It just looks like he has better balance and a little bit better pace at the plate. It looks like his rhythm and tempo at the plate look very comfortable and confident.

"He has to get his reps. He's had a couple hiccups here, physically. But he's ready to go. It's encouraging to see how he played tonight. Hopefully, we can keep him healthy because he is an exciting talent."

Middlebrooks only was called on to make one play in the field, in the sixth, when he retired Brad Glenn on a routine grounder.

A variety of injuries has limited Middlebrooks to only 21 games with Boston: a right calf strain; a fractured right index finger which resulted from a line drive while he was playing third against Detroit on May 16; and a strained left wrist he sustained while diving back to first base at Toledo on July 11.

As a result, Middlebrooks is hitting .197 with two home runs and nine RBIs with Boston.

Middlebrooks was quick to say that his finger and wrist are "fine" and his timing is where he'd like it to be.

"It's there," Middlebrooks said. "I feel good. I feel it's just a matter of time [before he's recalled to Boston]. My job right now is to be consistent and keep my health where it is. That's the biggest thing for me so far. But I'm feeling pretty good."

Having been such an integral part of the Red Sox and now for the most part having been a spectator hasn't been easy for Middlebrooks to absorb.

"It's been a frustrating two years for me," said Middlebrooks, who in 19 rehab games is hitting .242 with two homers and six RBIs. "We won a World Series last year, but I was hurt for half the year.

"It's getting pretty old. But it's been something that's been out of my control. It's not stuff that I could have prevented. That might be even more frustrating."

When Middlebrooks reaches the point where he can be activated, he'll present Red Sox manager John Farrell with a conundrum because Stephen Drew was signed to played shortstop which, in turn, moved Xander Bogaerts to third base. And Brock Holt has shown he's capable of playing virtually every position on the field.

"Right now, I don't know if there's a place for me," Middlebrooks said. "I talked to the guys earlier today and they said to keep doing what you're doing. Keep getting your timing back. Keep getting your feet back underneath you because I haven't played many games this year.

"My biggest thing is being consistent and being on the field every day."

Mike Scandura is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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