Will Middlebrooks back in starting lineup following wrist scare

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It was easy to think the worst when Will Middlebrooks left Wednesday’s Grapefruit League game after he experienced pain in his right wrist on a check swing, but fortunately for the Red Sox, it turned out to be a false alarm.

Middlebrooks was examined by a hand specialist, who determined that the flash of pain was likely scar tissue breaking up in the wrist which he broke when he was hit by a pitch last August. The 24-year-old took batting practice Thursday without incident and participated in normal pre-game activities yesterday, which Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe notes was enough for him to be cleared to return to the lineup at third base this afternoon against the Twins. Crisis averted, it seems.

Middlebrooks packed a punch prior to the injury last year, hitting .288/.325/.509 with 15 home runs, 54 RBI and an .835 OPS over his first 75 major league games. The Red Sox are banking on him to be a major part of their lineup moving forward.

Dave Martinez: “I don’t know what else to do”

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One night after losing to the Cubs on a two-out, two-strike, down-three, pinch-hit, walk-off grand slam to the Cubs, the Washington Nationals were in a barn-burner against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Nats were down 1-0, then up 4-2, then down 6-4 following a big Cardinals rally in the eighth, capped by a big Matt Carpenter home run, before somehow getting up off the mat and tying things back up at 6 in the top of the ninth inning. The bullpen has been bad, but even shaky relievers are successful more often than we imagine them to be. Having lost two of the previous three due to bullpen hiccups, there was no special reason to think that they’d lose late once again.

Koda Glover took the mound and attempted to close things out. He got ahead of Paul DeJong 1-0 and then promptly threw three balls. Not wanting to put the winning run on first base to lead off the inning, Glover threw a fastball right over the plate and then watched DeJong deposit it over the left field fence and into the bullpen to give the Nats their second walkoff loss in around 24 hours:

After Sunday’s game Nats players and coaches all gave the usual “gotta forget this one and move on to the next game” quotes. After last night’s loss, however, rookie manager Dave Martinez said this: “I don’t know what else to do.”

That answer came in response to the cratering of Sammy Solis in that ugly eighth inning, but it might as well apply to any of the Nats relievers or, for that matter, the Nationals as a team. It’s a lost, floundering group, seven games back in the National League East and six back in the Wild Card race with a mob of teams in front of them. They have lost 21 one-run games and there is absolutely no one down in that pen that Dave Martinez can count on at the moment.

Closer Sean Doolittle has been on the disabled list for weeks and weeks. Kelvin Herrera is on the disabled list with shoulder problems. Ryan Madson, who gave up David Bote‘s grand slam on Sunday, said afterward that he is hurt and could very well hit the disabled list soon. GM Mike Rizzo shipped Brandon Kintzler and Shawn Kelley out of town for allegedly being malcontents. That leaves Glover, Solis, Matt Grace, Greg Holland, Wander Suero and, I guess, thoughts and prayers for Martinez to turn to.

In his place I wouldn’t know what else to do either.