Will Middlebrooks has been a bright spot since he was called up to play third base when Kevin Youkilis was hurt in May. But, since Youkilis was traded, it seems as if the pressure of being the only guy at that position has led to struggles both offensively and defensively.
The day that Youk was traded—June 24—is when the struggles began for Mr. Middlebrooks.
He has only one hit in his past five games, reducing his average to .302, compared to .331 at game time on June 24.
This is a 1-for-17 slump with only one walk and four strikeouts. Sure, he faced the likes of Felix Hernandez and Ricky Romero, but it is still a slump that no one expected after his torrid start in June.
The 23-year-old has also made several miscues since the Youkilis trade. He has made a total of seven errors on the season and has already made a couple of throwing and fielding errors at the hot corner, with no other qualified third baseman to take over if he has to work out some kinks in his game.
Most major league players go through slumps; it is just an inopportune time for Middlebrooks to start his current slump at the plate and in the field. Maybe being away from the Boston media and the rest of the six-game road trip will be the right time for Middlebrooks to get his legs back under him and focus on being the hitter everyone, including himself, knows he can be.