The Boston Red Sox have struggled to find offensive production in the outfield this season. As the Red Sox continue to search for options, the team has explored playing third baseman Will Middlebrooks in the outfield.
Middlebrooks, who was placed on the disabled list in May with a broken right index finger, is currently rehabbing with the Pawtucket Red Sox. Boston manager John Farrell told the Boston Globe on Saturday that Middlebrooks will not take fly balls in the outfield until he gets back into the flow of things at third base and at designated hitter
“Our intent is to get him back in the flow of things at those two positions – that would be third base and DH,” said Farrell. “Once we get into the rehab progress or a plan – a week to 10 days – we may take a look at him in the outfield just to answer any questions of flexibility that we can before a decision on the roster is to be made. If that gives us an ability to find at-bats for Will if he were to come back here in that capacity so be it.”
The Red Sox signed shortstop Stephen Drew in part because of the lack of offensive production from Middlebrooks. Prior to Middlebrooks being placed on the disabled list, he was only hitting .197 with two home runs and nine RBIs in 21 games.
Brock Holt was called up to replace Middlebrooks on May 17 and has been one of Boston’s best hitters. Holt has batted lead-off while also playing five different fielding positions. Assuming Holt continues to put up the same numbers he has in the 27 games (.340 with one home run, 15 RBIs and an on-base percentage of .378) since the call-up, the Red Sox will have a tough decision to make once Middlebrooks is set to return in a few weeks.
The Red Sox have had little production from corner outfielders Jonny Gomes, Daniel Nava and Grady Sizemore this season. So it makes sense that the team is exploring other options in attempts to get more offensive production from those spots.
Middlebrooks’ best chance to get playing time once he returns is to play in the outfield. It will be interesting to see if Middlebrooks can make the transition to right or left field.