With the incubation of Will Middlebrooks in Pawtucket John Farrell has closed the yawning grave that was the lower third of the order. David Ross has retreated to the disabled list, and only Stephen Drew remains to kill rallies, although he is perfectly capable at it.
Jose Iglesias has shown his corner-brother Middlebrooks that Pawtucket is not forever. He batted .400 and was still demoted, but the Red Sox are more willing to test young talent this year. With three infielders with anemic batting averages (Middlebrooks, Drew and Ciriaco) they made the strategic move. They practiced Iglesias at third base and then retrieved him to backfill the gaping pit at the bottom of the order.
So Middlebrooks can look forward to reclaiming his home at the corner. Eventually he will get his stroke and his confidence back, and he will return to Boston. And while I wish no ill will on Stephen Drew, I fully expect the Drew family constitution to betray him by mid-season, and he will visit the disabled list. By the All-Star game, we may see the infield of the future: Middlebrooks, Iglesias, Pedroia, and Napoli/ Carp.
Except for Napoli, this is a very tight infield defensively, and Napoli is improving. If the inside four can stay healthy, they will be a boon to the pitching staff, which could use a boon for its dire medical straits. But this infield made them better in April and it may again in July.
So while the Red Sox and Middlebrooks are lumbering through the dog days of June, they need only endure it to find their rejuvenation in July. There is a promise in the long-suffering four that wasn’t there in 2012. Except for Pedroia, each one has to find his stride in the middle of the race, but they each have the talent and commitment to sport a kick down the stretch.