Middlebrooks impresses Red Sox in two-hit debut

The Sports Xchange

Will Middlebrooks stepped to the plate for his first major league at-bat in the second inning Wednesday night.

He never swung the bat.

Middlebrooks drew a walk, then stole a bases, and later collected two hits in a memorable debut for the Red Sox. All that was missing was a victory. The Red Sox lost 4-2 to the Athletics, but their top prospect proved impressive in his first game.

"He was just composed," left fielder Cody Ross said. "He came up here, and it felt like he belonged, and he swung it like he belonged. I'm just happy for him. I love seeing that from young guys."

With Kevin Youkilis on the disabled list due to a lower back injury and the Red Sox in need of a third baseman, Middlebrooks, 23, received the call and jumped right into the No. 8 spot in the order.

"To see where he came from as a high school kid and a kid who was actually more of a football player in high school -- hadn't played a lot of baseball until now -- it's an exciting day for him, an exciting day for the organization, and a big credit to our scouting and developers," general manager Ben Cherington said. "This is not a guy that was a first-round pick, this is not a guy that was atop everyone's draft boards."

Middlebrooks was a fifth-round pick in 2007 out of Liberty-Eylau High School in Texarkana, Texas. He batted .333 with nine homers and 27 RBI in 24 games for Class AAA Pawtucket this season.

His first hit Wednesday was a bleeder up the third base line in the fifth inning against Athletics starter Brandon McCarthy. In the seventh, he ripped a McCarthy cutter on the outside corner into the right field corner for a double. He struck out in his final at-bat, but it hardly diminished an excellent debut.

"I wish we could be in there all celebrating, sharing the delight that he'd really have if this was a victory," manager Bobby Valentine said. "But it was a terrific game he played, nice defense, the walk, the hustle, the stolen base, he was one of the right-handed hitters to go with that cutter to right field. He did a really good job."

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