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Red Sox pregame notes: Will Middlebrooks may get looks in outfield, Clay Buchholz may get another rehab start

06.15.14 at 12:54 pm ET
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When he made his trip down to Pawtucket for the first day of his rehab assignment, Will Middlebrooks did not know what his role would be when he was ready to return to the big leagues. While some floated the idea that Middlebrooks could try out his chops at first base, manager John Farrell said that the team may start to give the third baseman reps in the outfield.

The tryout in the outfield, however, will not occur until Middlebrooks is back in the flow of things at third base and at designated hitter.

“Once we get into the rehab progress or plan in a week to ten days, we may take a look at him in the outfield,” Farrell said. “It’s just to answer any questions of flexibility that we can before a decision on the roster is to be made so if that gives us ability to find at-bats for Will if he were to come back here in that capacity, so be it.”

First base coach Arnie Beyeler, who coordinates the outfielders, believes that Middlebrooks has a perfect model to follow Brock Holt in regards to the transition from third base to the outfield.

“These guys are all good athletes,” Beyeler said. “It’s just playing baseball so they’ve just got to go out there from talking to those guys who have made that transition, it’s a little lonely out there by yourself and a little far removed the further out you get, the slower things get a little bit so you’ve got to stay focused, a little tougher to stay focused, but then, all of a sudden, the ball gets hit to you and the game is on the line so. These guys are all baseball players and they do whatever it takes to stay on the field, so we’ll go out there and go to work if that’s the case. I’m sure he’ll be fine and use his athletic ability.”

Beyeler, who has not yet talked to Middlebrooks about the outfield yet, says the most important part about the transition to the outfield for any newcomer is introducing the intricacies of Fenway Park‘s outfield.

“You don’t have any room in left field and then you’ve got tons of room in right field so we go out and go over the field and talk about what’s straight up and the different throws and talk about guys more than anything,” Beyeler said. “Then we hit a few balls and a lot of the stuff, it’s all about repetition. You can talk all you want, read the book all you want, but you’ve got to go play and you’ve got to get balls hit to you.”

Beyeler notes Holt’s athletic ability and instincts helped him make a relatively smooth transition to the outfield. Beyeler indicates that Middlebrooks will be able to use those same qualities to adjust to a new position.

“[Athletic ability and instincts] translate everywhere [Holt] seems to play and he’s done a good job at it.,” Beyeler said. “He’s fearless and he seems to really stay focused wherever he’s at. He’s got a really good clock as far as a game clock goes to know what bases to throw to and when to hit the cutoff man and when to throw the ball in the air and stuff like that.”

OTHER RED SOX NOTES

– After allowing two home runs and three runs in his rehab start Saturday, Clay Buchholz clearly stated that he would prefer to go back to the big leagues rather than make another rehab start. Farrell, who has not sat down with Buchholz about his start, was less committal in regards to whether or not Buchholz would need an other start in the minors.

“Overall strike-throwing was improved,” Farrell said. “Report on arm strength and velocity was increased. Looking at 62 pitches thrown. I haven’t sat down and met with Clay yet to go, ‘What’s the next step?’ One of the things we’ll have to consider is the number of pitches that he’s currently built up to and what he’ll be required or likely asked to do once he comes back to our rotation so that’s the one thing that we’ve got to kind of work through right now.”

Xander Bogaerts will sit out for the second time in the last week during Sunday’s game. While Bogaerts’ last off-day was due to physical and mental fatigue, the shortstop is sitting out due to flu-like symptoms. Bogaerts came to Fenway with a fever.

“We’ve kept him away from the group as much as we can this morning, so hopefully this doesn’t become something that spreads throughout,” Farrell said. “We’re hoping he’s back in the lineup tomorrow.”

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