ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Will Middlebrooks’ long day Monday went beyond the 14 innings the Red Sox played Monday night.
The third baseman left Syracuse, N.Y., where Pawtucket was playing, in the predawn hours to make the trip here, encountered a long delay in Philadelphia, where he changed planes, and didn't arrive at Tropicana Field until about 2:30 Monday afternoon.
Middlebrooks, playing his first game after a five-game rehab assignment for the PawSox, singled home a run in the first inning, then turned a critical third-to-home-to-first double play in the ninth to help send the game into extra innings.
He also learned that he would be sharing playing time at third base with Jose Iglesias, with manager John Farrell informing him that the Sox intend to use Iglesias at least three times a week on the left side of the infield, including perhaps once a week at short.
Middlebrooks has battled rib and back injuries and a prolonged slump that has left him with a slash line of .199 AVG/.230 OBP/.398 SLG entering play Tuesday night. Iglesias, meanwhile, is at .446/.494/.581 while playing superb defense at a position that was foreign to him until just a month ago.
“Of course you want to question it, but I can’t," Middlebrooks said of coming off the DL to a shared position. “I trust these guys. I know they want the best for me and the best for the team. I’ll do what they ask me to do. I have a lot of trust in them. I truly believe they want to do what’s best for me."
Asked if the new arrangement puts additional pressure on him to produce, Middlebrooks said: “No, man. I want to win. I want to do whatever it takes to win. Of course, nobody wants to lose playing time, but [Iglesias] is swinging the bat, he’s playing good defense. He’s my teammate, man. I’m happy for him. I’m pulling for him. I’ll never go against my teammate, even if he’s playing my position.
“I want to win. This is my family. I want him to do well. No jealousy, anything like that. I’m happy for him. I’ve had to grind through stuff -- injuries, not playing well. It wears on you, it wears on you over time, not putting up numbers. That’s tough. He picked me up, he picked the team up. I’m proud of him."