SARASOTA, Fla. — Red Sox  third baseman Will Middlebrooks left in the first inning of Wednesday’s Grapefruit League  game against the Orioles after suffering an injury while facing Baltimore right-hander Chris Tillman .
Middlebrooks tried to check his swing on an inside fastball from Tillman. His hand flew off the bat as he attempted to do so, and after he unsuccessfully held up his swing, Middlebrooks immediately walked towards the Red Sox dugout, where he was greeted by a team trainer and manager John Farrell . The decision to remove him from the game was immediate. As Middlebrooks walked off the field, he was holding his right hand against his side — a particularly troubling sign for the Sox given that Middlebrooks’ 2012 season ended in early August when his right wrist was fractured by a pitch. The injury was describe by the Red Sox as “right wrist soreness,” with the third baseman slated for further evaluation on Thursday. Pedro Ciriaco was sent to the plate to complete the at-bat.
If Middlebrooks suffered an injury of any severity, it would deplete the Sox at one of the positions where they possess their least depth. Middlebrooks hit .288 with .325 OBP and .509 slugging mark along with 15 homers in 75 games in his rookie season in 2012. But when he went down for the season after getting smoked by a 95 mph fastball in the right wrist, the Sox suffered a considerable diminution in offensive firepower when Pedro Ciriaco (.293/.315/.390/.705 on the year; .270/.298/.345 after Middlebrooks’ injury) took over at the position. The only other option for third base on the 40-man roster is Brock Holt, though Holt is just being introduced to the position this spring.
Xander Bogaerts, likewise, is being introduced to third base this spring, though the shortstop was playing there solely in preparation for his participation in the World Baseball Classic  with Team Netherlands. Still, even with his introduction to the position, given that the 20-year-old has little more than a week’s worth of experience taking groundballs at third and has played just one month in Double-A, it would be unrealistic to consider him an option to start the regular season if the Middlebrooks injury represents a threat to his availability at the start of the year.
Still, given the fact that an injury has yet to be announced, it remains premature to speculate for how long Middlebrooks might be sidelined. More details will be offered as they become available. For complete Red Sox coverage, visit weei.com/redsox .