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Morning report: Middlebrooks good to go

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Greetings from the Port, where the Rays and Red Sox will play in front of a sellout crowd at Charlotte Sports Park.

The Rays don’t sell out very often -- just 20 of the previous 87 games since they moved their spring base here in 2009. But they don’t play the Red Sox every day, and Red Sox fans travel well -- even when they know they won’t see Big Papi & Company.

The Red Sox have brought four potential regulars: Jackie Bradley Jr., David Ross, Mike Napoli and Will Middlebrooks.

Ross is batting second, which manager John Farrell explained this way: “This is a matter of getting him the greatest number of at-bats we can get with catching six innings. Certainly that’s not his normal spot in the lineup. We figure he’s probably going to handle (starter Allen) Webster and (Drake) Britton today. And we’re trying to get him at least three at-bats.”

Middlebrooks, who has missed the past two games with a hyperextended finger, was not in the original lineup, which featured Brock Holt at third and Deven Marrero at shortstop. But Farrell said Middlebrooks reported that he felt good, so he’ll start at third.

“He swung in the cage before we left,” Farrell said. “Right after getting examined, he said he’s good to go. It’s encouraging. Glad he’s back in there.”

Grady’s good: Farrell said Grady Sizemore didn’t show up on today’s medical report. “I know he was seen briefly in the training room, so we fully expected him to come in this morning with the normal spring training morning-after-night-game,” Farrell said. “So nothing out of the ordinary.”

Bad news for Iggy: Former Red Sox shortstop Jose Iglesias has significant injuries to both shins that are expected to keep him out at least until the All-Star break and could force him to miss most or all of this season.

Farrell said the team was aware of shin-split problems before he was traded to the Tigers last season.

“We had to monitor it,” he said. “There were some games where we had to get him off his feet because he felt some pain and some soreness there. But to see what’s come out with the report, I feel sorry for the kid. He’s an exciting player. He’s fun to watch and was a great kid to have on the team.”

Comparing Marrero to Iglesias, Farrell said: “In some ways, they’re very comparable. Iggy had a little bit more of a flair to him. Not in a bad way, but a flair that was his person at shortstop. You appreciate that. But I think they’re equal in defensive capability.”

Here are today's lineups:

Red Sox

1. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF

2. David Ross, C

3. Mike Carp, LF

4. Mike Napoli, 1B

5. Will Middlebrooks, 3B

6. Corey Brown, RF

7. Ryan Lavarnway, DH

8. Brock Holt, 2B

9. Jonathan Herrera, SS

SP – Allen Webster, RHP

Also scheduled to pitch: Drake Britton, Rich Hill, Francisco Cordero, Brayan Villarreal.

Rays

1. David DeJesus, CF

2. Ben Zobrist, 2B

3. Evan Longoria, 3B

4. James Loney, 1B

5. Yunel Escobar, SS

6. Matt Joyce, RF

7. Wilson Betemit, DH

8. Logan Forsythe, LF

9. Ryan Hanigan, C

SP – David Price, LHP

Also scheduled to pitch: Heath Bell, Mark Lowe, Juan Sandoval