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Will Middlebrooks on latest DL stint: ‘It’s been a long couple years’

05.17.14 at 5:23 pm ET
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It would be one thing if Will Middlebrooks had encountered chronic difficulty with one type of injury that would require particular attention in the trainer’s room. Instead, he’s dealt with a variety of unpredictable ailments that have set off an Operation-style buzzer for any number of body parts.

In 2012, his promising rookie year came to a sudden halt with a wrist fracture that resulted from getting drilled by a pitch. In 2013, he suffered torn cartilage in his rib cage but landed on the disabled list due to inflammation in his lower back. In the first week of this season, after a promising start, he landed on the DL due to a calf injury. And on Saturday, one day after Ian Kinsler smoked a liner off his right hand, Middlebrooks landed back on the disabled list due to a non-displaced fracture of the right index finger that left the digit bent and discolored, with immobilization in a split for five to seven days now on the horizon, and no fixed timetable for his return from the DL.

“It’s been a long couple years. I’ve got to hang in there. Things will turn around — hopefully,” said Middlebrooks. “Just keep grinding it out.”

The play on which Middlebrooks suffered the fracture was unusual. With Middlebrooks drawn in to protect against a bunt, Kinsler smoked a ball at the third baseman.

“[Kinsler is] a guy, he’ll drop one down if you’re back. So I was playing up pretty close and he hit a screamer at me, obviously. It had some topspin. Kind of went with both hands for some reason to try to catch it. It went under my glove and just smoked me in the finger,” said Middlebrooks. “I thought it just bruised me, jammed me pretty good. It kept swelling and kept swelling throughout the game, and by the eighth I couldn’t get batting gloves on.”

Middlebrooks went 0-for-2 and made a few defensive plays without incident, but the swelling reached a point where he couldn’t keep his finger on the bat. He didn’t tell John Farrell that he couldn’t hit when the Sox manager pinch-hit for him in the bottom of the seventh. (“I didn’t tell him,” said Middlebrooks. “That’s not my nature. I don’t want to come out of the game.”) But an MRI on Saturday revealed that the injury was more than something that could be addressed with ice.

In 21 games this year, Middlebrooks is hitting .197 with a .305 OBP and .324 slugging mark. He is eager to return to health in hopes of turning around his performance this year.

“I think I’m pretty due for [a change of fortunes],” said Middlebrooks. “We’ll see.”

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