BOSTON, MA: Will Middlebrooks #64 of the Boston Red Sox doubles in the seventh inning against the Oakland Athletics at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Maybe you're curious about how manager Bobby Valentine was going to respond to Will Middlebrook's successful first game in the major leagues, in which he went 2-for-3 with a walk, double, single, and a steal. Tonight's game might give you an idea as to the answer:
Tonight's starter, Wei-Yin Chen, is left-handed. That leaves Ryan Sweeney, the second hitter in the lineup against righties, on the bench. Normally, Dustin Pedroia would just slide up to his old spot in the order, but it appears that Valentine is going to see if Middlebrooks can handle this role early on in his career.
Middlebrooks is right-handed, and had an 1125 OPS against southpaws at Pawtucket this year. Of course, that's just in roughly 30 at-bats, but Middlebrooks has hit lefties well for a while now. He had power against them back in 2010 at High-A, before power had even developed in his game, although he did have something of a reverse split last year with Portland.
He's been more of a middle-of-the-order hitter in the Red Sox organization, but even a Boston lineup missing Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Kevin Youkilis has its share of quality hitters for those roles.