Boston fans held their collective breath in the first inning of Wednesday’s spring training game against the Baltimore Orioles. Middlebrooks left the game after a checked swing, clutching the same wrist he broke last season.
As the game continued, CBSSports.com’s Mike Axisa reported that the 24-year-old Middlebrooks had experienced soreness in his wrist and was expected to be re-evaluated to check for further damage.
His exam...was benign. He didn't feel any discomfort when he was put through a battery of tests and he's actually been cleared for all baseball activities, but I'm sure he's going to take the day to just let it rest. But given the way he came out after the swing, it was obviously very good news this morning.
Browne also quoted Middlebrooks, who echoed his manager’s reassurances about his health:
I'm fine. Same as last night. [I was] just scared. It scared me. I felt just an awkward feeling, awkward movement of the wrist. It was the initial zing of pain and that was it. I expect to be fine. I'm fine right now. I could have swung a bat last night.
Although he was held out of Thursday’s game, Middlebrooks took batting practice beforehand and reported no ill effects from the previous night’s scare.
Farrell told ESPNBoston.com’s Gordon Edes that the team was so confident there was no injury that no follow-up X-ray or MRI was needed. He also indicated the Red Sox wouldn’t bring their budding star back so soon if they didn’t think he was physically sound, explaining, “There was nothing structural that was revealed in the physical testing he went through. Had there been any kind of discomfort, we certainly would have taken him for imaging, but at this point, that wasn't recommended by the doctors."
Middlebrooks had enjoyed a stellar rookie season last year before being struck down by his injury. He hit .288 with 15 home runs and 54 RBI in 75 games. The Red Sox went 43-32 when he played and an abysmal 26-61 when he was out of the lineup.
The news that Middlebrooks won’t miss any significant time is also a relief given the lack of good backup options at third base. Currently, Pedro Ciriaco, Brock Holt and Drew Sutton are the most likely players to step forward in the event of a real injury.
Despite the initial scare, it appears Middlebrooks and the Red Sox can push forward with spring training and prepare for the upcoming regular season. That is good news indeed for all involved.
Statistics via BaseballReference.