CLEVELAND — Will Middlebrooks felt something crunch when he was hit in the right wrist by a fastball Friday night. He hoped at first that it was the Velcro on his batting gloves.
But he soon realized that it was something much worse.
“Once we came in, I really couldn’t move it much,” Middlebrooks said Sunday before the Red Sox beat the Indians, 14-1. “I had a feeling it wasn’t good.”
X-rays at an emergency room Friday night revealed a broken pisiform bone, a diagnosis confirmed when Middlebrooks visited specialist Dr. Thomas Graham the next day.
The pisiform, in simple terms, is a pea-shaped bone that helps join the hand to the wrist.
His season, almost assuredly, is over.
With the Sox falling out of contention, there is no reason to rush back their prized 23-year-old third baseman.
Middlebrooks has been told he will not need surgery to repair the break. Although the bone is in two pieces, the hope is it will heal after his wrist is placed in a cast this week.
He will be checked again in three weeks.
“Nothing was displaced, just broken,” Middlebrooks said. “I’m going to have to see how it goes the next few weeks . . . They said it should heal up fine. Times vary, everyone’s different.”
Middlebrooks has never had an injury this serious, even while playing high school football in Texas.
“It’s horrible,” he said. “I mean, there’s a month and a half left and I’m stuck being a cheerleader. We all want to win games here and I can’t do anything to help now.”
Middlebrooks hit .288 in his first year in the majors with 14 doubles, 15 home runs, and 54 RBIs in 75 games. Given that he spent most of last season with Double A Portland, he took a significant step forward.
“It’s hard to say now, because I want to win and I want to be in the playoffs. But I think once the season is over with, I can look back and be happy with what I did,” he said. “Could I have done better? Sure. Is there stuff to build on for next year? Absolutely.
“The ultimate goal is winning and getting to the playoffs. That’s what we’re working on right now.”
Middlebrooks said this season was his most productive in the sense of learning about the game.
“Just the experience you gain playing in these games every day and being around these guys every day,” he said. “Even going out for dinner, away from baseball, you talk about it and you learn a lot from guys like Adrian [Gonzalez] and Pedey [Dustin Pedroia]. I can go on and on, the list is long of guys we have here like that.”
Middlebrooks is already looking ahead to spring training.
“Next year, going into it, I feel like I have a job and not trying to win a spot. I feel like I have a spot here,” he said. “That’s a big thing.”
Middlebrooks said he had to adjust to how pitchers went after him following his first few weeks in the majors. He also played with a sore left hamstring for several weeks.
David Ortiz, who last week said he hoped to play against the Indians on Sunday, still isn’t ready to return from the disabled list. He has been out since July 17 with a strained right Achilles’ tendon.
Ortiz received only treatment Sunday and will take Monday off. If he is able, he will work out in Baltimore before Tuesday’s game. But he does not know when his return will come.
“It’s not healing,” he said. “I thought I was getting there and it’s still sore and I still can’t run. I’m doing the best I can with it.”
Ortiz is being cautious, knowing an Achilles’ tendon tear would be career-threatening. That injury, if it requires surgery, can knock a player out for 10 months or more.
“I hate watching games. I can’t watch games any more,” Ortiz said. “I want to be out there. But if I can’t run, I can’t really play.”
Bailey gets closer
Andrew Bailey pitched 1⅓ scoreless in Triple A Pawtucket’s 9-3 loss at Buffalo. The closer, who has been out all season recovering from thumb surgery, could be activated this week.
“It would be enough if what they see and what he feels match up,” said Bobby Valentine.
Lefthanded reliever Rich Hill, out since early June with a strained flexor tendon in his elbow, is scheduled to start a rehabilitation assignment on Monday in the Gulf Coast League.
Daisuke Matsuzaka will remain with Pawtucket for a fourth rehabilitation start. The hope is he will get to 90 pitches in his next start and then return to the majors.
Ciriaco in center
Valentine got creative in the eighth inning, using infielder Pedro Ciriaco in center field. He has played a few innings in right and left in his career but never in center. Ciriaco handed all three balls hit his way without any problem. “We have to figure out what guys can do, just in case,” Valentine said . . . The Sox gave up their DH in the eighth inning, moving Jarrod Saltalamacchia to first base. That gave reliever Clayton Mortensen an at-bat in the ninth and he struck out . . . Winning pitcher Jon Lester has allowed one run on nine hits in his last 19 innings against the Indians and struck out 28.