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.
MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers plan to tab ace Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of the World Series. Nothing is set in stone yet ahead of Tuesday’s Game 1 of the World Series. In the event Kershaw can’t start Game 1, Rich Hill would start. Otherwise, Hill would start Game 4.
Kershaw, started Game 1 and Game 5 of the NLCS against the Brewers, then closed out Game 7 with a flawless inning. He was hit around to the tune of five runs (four earned) over three-plus innings in Game 1, but rebounded for seven innings of one-run ball in Game 5. He struck out two en route to sending the Dodgers to the World Series in the ninth inning of Game 7.
Kershaw also tossed eight shutout innings against the Braves in Game 2 of the NLDS. Overall, he has a 2.37 ERA in 19 innings this postseason. There was no doubt who would be the Dodgers’ first choice to start Game 1, but it’s a relatively recent situation where the ace of a team also closed out the final game of the previous series.
Hill has put up a 2.61 ERA in 10 1/3 innings this postseason. While he doesn’t have Kershaw’s pedigree, the Dodgers would be confident having him lead off the series. Hill was excellent down the stretch last year, helping the Dodgers reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Astros.
The Red Sox plan to start Chris Sale in Game 1 now that he’s recovered from a brief stint in the hospital due to a stomach ailment. The lefty has a 3.48 in 10 1/3 innings in the playoffs this year. He’s among a handful of candidates for the AL Cy Young award after posting a 2.11 ERA in the regular season, but his lack of innings (158) may hurt him.