In the last two days, Middlebrooks has three homers and nine RBI. He's hit safely in each of the first four games he's played in the majors and has at least one extra-base hit in all four, something only three other players have accomplished since 1918.
"Those were three impressive swings," said manager Bobby Valentine, noting that one homer was to left, another to right and the double was to straightaway center. "He's been an impressive player so far."
"I'm really comfortable up there," said Middlebrooks in what surely was a grand bit of understatement. "I'm just trying to carry over what I started in Pawtucket this year."
And indeed, Middlebrooks is bashing major league pitching in much the same way he hit Triple-A pitching in April. Monday night was a textbook example of a young hitter using the entire field.
"It's kind of come with developing my approach," said Middlebrooks, "and sticking with it. With certain guys, I'll look away, or if I know a guy is going to come in with a certain pitch, I'll look for that and if I get it, I try not to miss it."
Will Middlebrooks is pretty much the only thing Sox fans want to talk about in any kind of positive light right now. And with good reason: He looks like he's going to deliver on his "top prospect" promise.
Granted, it's early. But he looks good, has been fine in the field (Sunday's error aside), and looks like he has the right approach at the plate. He's done a great job of going the other way with the ball, and seems at ease at the dish.
That said, let's not cast Kevin Youkilis aside just yet. Plenty of prospects come up, show promise, and then go into prolonged streaks. Once major league pitchers get a little tape on a guy, they know how to attack him.
Youk isn't 100 years old. He's got plenty of baseball left. Over the last four years, he was 2nd in baseball in wOBA to Albert Pujols. He's good. Don't get carried away in your Middlebrooks love just yet -- but be excited for 2013.
On page 2, Adrian Gonzalez holds court.
During a lengthy conversation at his locker, a candid and direct Gonzalez vowed his performance would reach the levels his $154 million contract suggests they should.
“I can’t focus on the statistics. I know [the media] has to, that’s their job. But the home runs will be there. I look at batting average with runners in scoring position, on-base and slugging,’’ he said.
“The only thing I can say is that when the last day of the season comes, [his slugging percentage] is going to be over .500 and the on-base is going to around .400. You may not see it right now because it’s May 7. But I promise you when the season is over, the slugging will be over .500 and the on-base will be around .400. It is every year.’’
Gonzalez scoffed at the idea that he is having trouble handling the pressure of playing in Boston after spending the bulk of his career with the low-profile San Diego Padres.
“It has never been a transition. I don’t understand why people talk about the transition,’’ he said. “People talk about transitioning to the American League and the Boston market and all that stuff. That has zero effect on anything. Why? Because I don’t pay attention to it. I hit. I don’t care where I’m playing. I don’t care where I’m hitting. I don’t care who I’m hitting against. I’m trying to help the team win. That’s the only thing that matters.
Everyone loves to get on Adrian Gonzalez right now, because he's underperforming and so is the team. So therefore, it's an easy narrative to say it's his fault, as he should be carrying them to success.
Baseball is an individual game. You can grit your way to so much, but ultimately it comes down to being insanely talented and athletic, and being able to repeat the execution of those gifts. Adrian can do that. He's absolutely right: Over the course of the season, it'll even out for him. But the end, his stats will be there. Last year he showed us that he's a bit streaky; this year seems to be confirming it.
Don't hound him for his personality. It doesn't matter if he throws his bat or yells or whatever else. Not everybody is Dustin Pedroia -- and if they were, the team would be really annoying. (They would also get into fights pretty much constantly.) Any good team is going to need a mix of personalities, and people shouldn't be trying to be something they're not. He's a stoic guy, and he's also one of the best hitters in the league. He'll come around.
CSNNE | Doubront answers bell in win over Royals | Beckett set to make return to mound Thursday | Red Sox slug way to win in Kansas City 11-5 | ESPNBoston | Red Sox rout Royals to end slide as Will Middlebrooks rips 2 HRs | Doubront gives Sox what they need | Despite workload, Sox stand pat in 'pen | Middlebrooks lightning strikes twice | Sox take to road | Middlebrooks: Sox' Roy Hobbs | Aviles back on familiar ground | Sox hope time heals Buchholz | Globe | Royal treatment | Doubront's outing is a big relief | Beckett set to start Thursday
[Photo note: obviously, credit goes to the above ESPNBoston article with prompting the idea for using a Hobbs card]