Will Middlebrooks Back In The Lineup, Not Headed To Outfield

KANSAS CITY, MO: Will Middlebrooks #64 of the Boston Red Sox runs to first after hitting a three-run home run against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

It was reported earlier today that the Red Sox and Will Middlebrooks didn't think the cramping in his leg that had him removed from Tuesday night's game was anything serious. Both parties are backing that assertion up tonight, in the conclusion of this three-game series with the Royals, as Middlebrooks is back in the lineup and hitting fifth against left-baller Bruce Chen.

As for the future of Middlebrooks in Boston, it might have to wait. Kevin Youkilis is going to be the third baseman once he returns from the disabled list -- though whether that's going to happen in a week or a month is one of those things no one knows just yet -- and general manager Ben Cherington said that Middlebrooks would not be headed to the outfield. According to Cherington: "We like him at third and we need to be careful about moving guys around to fill a short-term interest." This isn't like when Chase Headley was moved to the outfield for the Padres, because Kevin Kouzmanoff was a fine defensive player who was going to stick with the team for a few more seasons. Middlebrooks would very temporarily find himself in the outfield, were such an experiment to occur.

The idea had been tossed around -- explore every avenue, and all that -- but it doesn't sound like either Cherington or Bobby Valentine were that enthused by the idea. Valentine has moved third basemen to the outfield before, and while he feels that Middlebrooks is "fleet" and has more "upside" because of it, there's some scarring in his history thanks to players like Dean Palmer, who weren't quite as athletic-looking in the outfield.

Middlebrooks will likely get to continue the learning process in Triple-A, while Kevin Youkilis either proves he still belongs or shows that his time as a starter in Boston is indeed over. But we're a week, or a month, or whatever away from that at the moment. Enjoy seeing the future as it starts at third base tonight in Kansas City.

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