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Back spasms sideline Middlebrooks

BOSTON -- This has been a trying spring for Will Middlebrooks in his first full season with the Red Sox. He endured the worst slump of his professional career, one in which he batted .093 (5-for-54) over a span of two weeks and 14 games. On May 7 in Fenway Park, he collided with catcher David Ross and slid into the box-seat retaining wall, bruising his ribs, a condition he has played through.

Then Thursday night, after looking at called third strikes in each of his first two at-bats, extending a current hitless streak to 0-for-11 and dropping his average to .201, Middlebrooks did not come out for the fifth inning, replaced at third base by Pedro Ciriaco.

Middlebrooks was forced out of the game by spasms in his lower back, manager John Farrell said after Thursday’s 12-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians. The condition was not brought on by his rib injury, the manager said.

“In his last at-bat last night in Chicago, I think he slipped coming out of the box a little bit," Farrell said. “He didn’t mention any complaint prior to the game tonight, but as things unfolded, the stiffness was there. He’s day-to-day right now."

The Sox already have played shorthanded the last three games because of Shane Victorino’s strained left hamstring. Just this week, the Sox gave shortstop Jose Iglesias a start at third base in Triple-A Pawtucket, preparing him to be more versatile in case they need another infielder.