As Cherington stressed, it’s about who the best player is right now. Middlebrooks is putting himself far down that list of best players with only a .319 OBP in Pawtucket. Bogaerts, meanwhile, is emerging as the clear-cut choice.
The Red Sox really are making a statement to Middlebrooks, that he has to improve as hitter or else he won’t be back in the majors this year. Like Bogaerts, the Iglesias’ trade has provided a golden opportunity for him. But it’s not just going to be given to him. He has to earn it.
“He knows what he needs to do,” Cherington said about Middlebrooks. “And he’ll be back in the big leagues when the time is right. We don’t know when that is.”
The Red Sox likely want to give Bogaerts another couple of weeks in Triple-A to see how he adapts more as pitchers adjust more to him. But so far, so good: He’s only gotten better since being at Triple-A.
Maybe the biggest concern with Bogaerts is his defense. He only has received seven chances in his five games at third base. He has made all seven plays cleanly. The 20-year-old likes to joke that the ball never comes to him at third so that makes the position much easier than shortstop.
In reality, he still feels more comfortable at shortstop.
“It (the ball) comes quicker and so you’ve got to let your instincts take place there,” Bogaerts said about third. “You’ve got to get different angles so it’s different.”
Adjusting to Triple-A pitchers is much difficult from adjusting to major league hurlers.
Just ask Angels center fielder Mike Trout, who finished second for the 2012 AL MVP but who hit just .220 with a .281 in his first major league stint, a 40-game stretch in 2011.