In a weekend that was filled with many obstacles and challenges, the last thing the Boston Red Sox needed was an injury, especially to a critical part of their infield. On Sunday morning, the Red Sox placed third baseman Will Middlebrooks on the 15-day disabled list with a Grade 1 calf strain. Middlebrooks, who battled several ailments during the 2013 season, was a late scratch from the lineup on Saturday, and probably won’t return to the Red Sox lineup until late April.
Middlebrooks’s injury could not have come at a worse time for the Red Sox. After losing two straight to the Milwaukee Brewers in their first series at Fenway Park, the Red Sox needed all pieces of their offense to come together after little production against a meager Brewers pitching staff. Although Middlebrooks was just hitting .231 in his first four games, he was hitting well in his last two games, even slugging his first home run of the season on Friday. Essentially, the Red Sox will be missing a valuable power bat in the lineup, which will temporary hurt their efforts of beating teams through home runs.
In order to compensate for Middlebrooks’s absence, the Red Sox called up utility infielder Brock Holt from the Pawtucket Red Sox (AAA). Despite the hot hitting of top prospect Garin Cecchini (.556 in his first three games with Pawtucket), the Red Sox decided to go with the veteran Holt, who played in 26 games with the Red Sox last season. Holt brings a solid bat and glove to the Red Sox, meaning that the Red Sox lineup will not completely miss a beat with Middlebrooks heading to the disabled list.
Even though Holt could be a productive fill-in for the Red Sox, the current backup infielder Jonathan Herrera will figure to get most of the starts at third base. Herrera, who was acquired from the Colorado Rockies during the offseason, started at third base for the Red Sox on Saturday after Middlebrooks went down with his calf strain. Herrera is a solid contact hitter, and can make great defensive plays when needed. While Middlebrooks heals from his injury, Herrera and Xander Bogaerts comprise a solid infield that make it difficult for opposing hitters to reach base.
Although Middlebrooks’s injury will hurt the Boston Red Sox’s lineup in terms of power and run production, the additions of Herrera and Holt will definitely help the Red Sox fill is void in terms of contact hitting and defensive productivity. Herrera and Holt can create a successful platoon during Middlebrook’s absence, helping the Red Sox’s lineup maintain their success as they play more challenging teams over the course of April.