By Aaron Cheris
Sky Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks got off to a rocky start to his season.
Just five games into the season, Middlebrooks found himself on the disabled list with an oblique injury that took nearly two weeks to heal. Since then, Middlebrooks has had a tough time finding his rhythm on the field.
“That was frustrating because I was feeling good,” Middlebrooks said. “It’s an annoying injury because you feel good then you go to hit in the cage and it’s still there.”
The season has been similar to Middlebrooks’ career as a whole, starting off well but an injury leads to struggles on the field.
Over his first two Major League seasons with the Boston Red Sox, Middlebrooks clubbed 32 home runs and was a key part of the team that won the 2013 World Series.
“My first couple years were great then I dealt with some injuries,” he said. “That held me down. It’s something I’ve been dealing with since.”
With the oblique injury past him this season, Middlebrooks has found his form at the plate. Over his last 10 games, Middlebrooks is batting .368 (14-for-38) with nine runs batted in and one home run, a grand slam in Fresno on May 27.
Middlebrooks calls himself, “The least superstitious person in baseball.”
Even when he was in a deep slump in late April, Middlebrooks said he never changed his approach, and has always kept a positive attitude when things weren’t going well.
“I haven’t changed a thing,” he said. “Once it leaves my bat, it’s out of my control.”
In the field, Middlebrooks has looked to become more versatile on the infield. Originally a shortstop when he was drafted by the Red Sox, he converted to a third baseman during his time coming up the Red Sox system.
“I outgrew the position really. I got taller, gained some weight, and filled out,” he said of his time at shortstop.
After playing a little shortstop with the Padres last season, Middlebrooks knew he had to adjust to be able to play the position better.
“This offseason I cut down some weight in case I had to play some more,” he said. “I dropped 15 pounds and worked on my quickness in case they need me to play those positions.”
Middlebrooks has also been playing some first base this season, and he knows versatility in the field a key to success.
“I want to be able to play every position on the infield so if they need me I can be as big a help to my team as possible,” Middlebrooks said.
For now, Middlebrooks and the Sky Sox are focused on a battle for the PCL American Northern Division title, as they sit just two games out of first place entering play on Monday.