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For Will Middlebrooks, a welcome change

04.23.13 at 12:54 am ET

It had reached a point of considerable urgency for Will Middlebrooks. The questions raised by an 11-game slump that had seen him go 4-for-43 with one walk, no extra-base hits and 16 strikeouts had become tiresome. It was time for change.

He got a haircut, changed his wardrobe. Anything was on the table for the third baseman.

“Wore different shoes, ate different. Anything you could think, I tried to flip flop it,” Middlebrooks said. “It worked.”

The evidence of that notion came in the fourth inning, when Middlebrooks jumped on a 2-0 slider over the plate from A.J. Griffin and sent it screaming into the Monster Seats in left field for a three-run homer, his fifth of the year. While that was his only hit in four plate appearances — two of which ended in strikeouts — for both Middlebrooks and his team, the 24-year-old’s first homer in more than two weeks offered a mixture of relief and satisfaction.

“I hit the ball solid. I’€™m still not where I want to be but I felt like put some better swings on balls today and stuck to my approach throughout the game,” said Middlebrooks. “Confidence is huge in this game. It’€™s hard to keep having confidence when you keep failing. It’€™s just good to hit a ball well, and that builds everything back up.”

Still, Middlebrooks is not above the idea of revisiting some of the rituals that offered him a starting point in his effort to emerge from the crater into which he’d fallen of late. He suggested that he might feel compelled to cut his hair anew on Tuesday, with one slight modification.

“Going to tip the barber a little better,” he said.

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