If Dustin Pedroia ends up on the DL, then Will Middlebrooks playing shortstop will help the Boston Red Sox make a push in the AL East and may be the difference for the Sox making the postseason at the end of the 2012 season.
According to NESN's Didier Morais, Middlebrooks, the third baseman of the future, has taken grounders at shortstop just in case of emergency. Bobby Valentine mentioned that the slugger has played short at the high school level and that Mike Aviles would be seeing some time at second with Pedroia out of the lineup.
This is a "what if" scenario, because Pedroia is expected to test out his torn abductor muscles next week and try to play through it, according to Evan Drellich of MLB.com.
But this type of move would be a huge benefit for the Red Sox in the short term.
The Red Sox need all the help they can get in the lineup with the likes of Jacoby Ellsbury and Pedroia out for some time.
The 23-year-old has already made a name for himself by hitting .316 with six home runs and driving in 21. It is astounding to see production from any rookie of this caliber early on, and Middlebrooks just looks comfortable every time he is at the plate.
The only bad thing at the moment is that he is basically splitting time with Kevin Youkilis.
Youkilis and Middlebrooks keep getting a day off when Adrian Gonzalez is at first base, but when Gonzalez is out in right field, then both can be in the lineup.
How can you get all three of these offensive players in the lineup without having to place one of them out in the outfield, which is an unnatural position for any of them?
The most logical is to put one of them in one of the middle infield positions until Pedroia can play. That may hinder the defense a little bit, but it also gives the Sox the best lineup they can field with 13 player on the DL.
This is only if Pedroia has to be out 3-4 weeks. And only if, because nothing should stop Middlebrooks from playing third as much as possible for he is the third baseman of the future and needs to keep getting reps at his natural position.
Middlebrooks working out at short is another selfless idea for the Red Sox and benefits, not only the lineup, but also the chemistry of this team.
He is the second player in 2012 that has willing chosen to play a different position to help the team and that kind of behavior is what will lead the Red Sox into the playoffs and maybe even an AL East title.
Will all five AL East teams in it for the long haul, Middlebrooks getting some starts at short would be a godsend for the ailing Sox until Pedroia is back playing second.
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