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Farrell: Will Middlebrooks remains "inconsistent" at Triple-A

It's just a single quote, but it makes you wonder if Boston expects their Opening Day third baseman back anytime soon.


Curious about why the Red Sox might be shopping for a third baseman at the trade deadline when they have Jose Iglesias in the majors and Will Middlebrooks at Triple-A, working his way back to the bigs? It's simple: the performance of those two is precisely why the Red Sox are shopping for third base options before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

Iglesias hasn't hit much of late after winning rookie of the month honors in June, posting a 499 OPS in July while playing out of position at third base, where his defense is good, but not shortstop-good, and his bat has more it needs to produce because of the positional shift. Then there is Middlebrooks, who has been up and down at Triple-A. While he's currently in the midst of a solid 10-game stretch where he's hit .318/.375/.523, the Red Sox and manager John Farrell aren't necessarily thrilled with what they've seen from him:

He's had some games where he's swung the bat very well. There's been some games where the inconsistencies emerge. Can't say that it's too different than what we saw here.

"Can't say that it's too different than what we saw here." Considering that what they saw in the majors is what got him sent down to the minors to begin with, it's not exactly a ringing endorsement for a triumphant return in the next week or two.

Middlebrooks has struck out under 18 percent of the time at Triple-A, a rate that's good for him, but the rest of it hasn't come along great. Yes, he is slugging .500 on the season there, but considering he slugged over .509 in the majors in 2012, you would expect him to be more forceful with the league than that.

It's not that Middlebrooks is a lost cause, not by any means. He has talent, and he has legitimate big-league power. The question is whether or not he can straighten things out in time to contribute this year. Given he's not blowing away the International League, and Farrell isn't all that impressed by his progress as of yet, one wonders if Xander Bogaerts would get the call before Middlebrooks should they need an internal shot in the arm later this year.

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