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Will Middlebrooks trying to get comfortable (and adjust to glasses) during rehab assignment

06.13.14 at 7:24 pm ET
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PAWTUCKET, R.I. — Standing in front of his locker at McCoy Stadium, Will Middlebrooks looked down at his finger and started to wiggle it. He put his hands next to each other. Suddenly, the extent of Middlebrooks’ injury was apparent. His right index finger, still slightly purple from bruises, was still nearly double the size of the finger on his left hand four weeks after the injury was sustained.

Throughout the day, Middlebrooks continues to stretch out his finger to help regain flexibility.

“Just working on getting it straightened out,” Middlebrooks said. “Luckily, it’s my top hand so it’s not squished in there. I can just leave it off the bat if I needed to.”

Middlebrooks is set to begin his rehab assignment with the PawSox after taking a screaming line drive off of his right index finger and being placed on the disabled list on May 17. The third baseman, who says that the team has not concretely set a number of games he will be down in the minors working his way back, has had more difficulty throwing than hitting with his swollen finger.

“Throwing is probably the worst [pain] because like I said, I don’t have to have it all the way on the bat,” Middlebrooks said. “There is not a whole lot of force on it.

“I’ve thrown the past couple of days and it’s pretty sore, but what do you expect? It’s only been three weeks.”

Having only played 115 games over the last two years, Middlebrooks believes that the rehab stint presents itself as an opportunity to get a sense of comfort back, both at the plate and in the field.

“I need to get timing,” Middlebrooks said. “I need to get comfortable with it and get in a rhythm here, offensively and defensively. Just baseball in general. That’s my goal right now. I don’t have a timetable set, like six games, 15 games. I’ve got to get healthy and need to get into a rhythm.”

While down in Pawtucket, Middlebrooks will try out a pair of prescription sports glasses to compensate for his astigmatism and slight nearsightedness. Middlebrooks tried using contact lenses during spring training, but found them tiresome and unpractical to use on the baseball field.

“They were tough for me to hit in,” Middlebrooks said. “They dry out a lot, the dirt and everything. It’s hard to play baseball in contacts. If you get dirt in them, you can’t just wipe it out. You have to get in there with the eye drops and you need someone else to help you. I’m going to try them out. It’s something different and I’ve tried them a couple of times in BP and it’s definitely weird, but it’s going to be a process for me.”

Middlebrooks asked teammates Stephen Drew and Jonathan Herrera about their experiences with the glasses on the field. Drew, who began using them this season, and Herrera, who predominantly wears the glasses during warmups and batting practice, told Middlebrooks that he should wear them as much as possible to get used to the difference in depth perception.

“It’s more at night time for me is when I need [glasses] the most,” Middlebrooks said. “Day games, I see the ball fine, but at night, it can get a little blurred. I can get a halo around the ball so it’s something I’m trying to fix.”

Middlebrooks does not yet know what his role is going to be once he returns to Boston. Given the team’s signing of Drew and his struggles at the plate, Middlebrooks hopes to help out in any way possible upon his return to the big leagues.

“It’s been a long two years,” Middlebrooks said. “I’ve been lucky enough and blessed with good teammates and I’ve had a lot of help to get through it all. I’ve said this before, but hopefully this is it. We can move forward from here and string together some consistent days on the field.”

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