Middlebrooks 2-for-3 with SB in debut

May, 3, 2012
BOSTON -- Will Middlebrooks has been touted for the last year or so as the Boston Red Sox's third baseman of the future.

If his debut Wednesday night was any indication, that may be a very bright future, indeed.

[+] Enlarge Will Middlebrooks
Mark L. Baer/US PresswireWill Middlebrooks steals second base after walking in his first major league plate appearance.
Middlebrooks, who was promoted from Pawtucket earlier in the day when veteran Kevin Youkilis (back) was placed on the disabled list, went 2-for-3 with a walk and a stolen base in his first major league game. He also calmly fielded the only two grounders hit his way.

The only thing that put a damper on the night for Middlebrooks was the fact that the Red Sox's offense as a whole was feeble, a major reason Boston suffered a 4-2 loss to the Oakland Athletics in the rubber game of the three-game series at Fenway Park.

"It was unbelievable. Words can't describe it. To come here to Fenway Park with these guys was unreal. Everyone here welcomed me with open arms. That made it easier. They helped me get comfortable," said the 6-foot-4, 225-pounder, a fifth-round pick in the 2007 draft.

"The first two innings I was in la-la land," admitted Middlebrooks, 23. "By the third inning I was relaxed, just the same as any game with just a lot more people watching."

With his parents, Tom and Julie, watching in the stands with his fiancée, Ann, after a hurried trip from Texarkana, Texas, Middlebrooks came to the plate for the first time in the second inning in front of the usual sellout crowd at Fenway. He was batting eighth in the order, and Oakland starter Brandon McCarthy didn't give him a pitch to hit. Middlebrooks walked on four pitches.

It was difficult to lay off the pitches.

"I was amped up like anyone would be for the first at-bat," said Middlebrooks.

He didn't stay on first base long. He stole second.

"That was awesome. I don't think I've ever run that fast in my life," he said.

In his second plate appearance and first official at-bat, he dribbled a ball down the third-base line and easily beat the throw from Brandon Inge for his first big league hit. Even Middlebrooks admitted it wasn't an impressive one.

"At first I was thinking I got a hit, but it wasn't a real hit," said Middlebrooks.

As is the custom, the first-hit baseball was tossed into the Red Sox dugout to be saved as a souvenir. Youkilis got hold of it and pretended to throw it into the stands, another time-honored baseball tradition. Later the ball was given to Middlebrooks as a memento.

So he had his hit. He was batting 1.000. It just didn't feel like a hit.

"The next at-bat was a little better," said Middlebrooks.

A lot better, actually. Middlebrooks impressively went with an outside cutter from McCarthy and smacked it down the right-field line for a double.

"He was working away to a lot of guys, so I went up there with the approach to go the other way with it," said Middlebrooks.

If this had been a Hollywood script, Middlebrooks would have clouted a game-winning homer in his final at-bat. But this was Fenway Park, where the Red Sox are struggling to win. They have lost seven of their last eight at home.

And in his final at-bat of his first day in the major leagues, Will Middlebrooks struck out.

"Wish we could be in there celebrating (a win) sharing the delight he would have had with a victory," said manager Bobby Valentine, "but he had a terrific game."

One of many, the Red Sox and their fans hope.



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