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Will Middlebrooks cleared to play for Red Sox

Will Middlebrooks was cleared by a hand specialist Thursday morning and took batting practice in Fort Myers. He is tentatively scheduled to play for the Red Sox Friday night.

Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff/File

Will Middlebrooks was cleared by a hand specialist Thursday morning and took batting practice in Fort Myers. He is tentatively scheduled to play for the Red Sox Friday night.

BRADENTON, Fla. — Will Middlebrooks was cleared by a hand specialist Thursday morning and took batting practice in Fort Myers. He is tentatively scheduled to play for the Red Sox Friday night.

Middlebrooks took an awkward swing at a high fastball in the first inning against the Orioles Wednesday night and felt a jolt of pain in his right wrist, the same wrist that was broken last August when he was hit by a pitch. He left the game as a precaution.

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Dr. Tom Holovacs, a hand specialist affiliated with the Red Sox, examined Middlebrooks and did not order any X-rays or further tests.

“There was nothing structural that was revealed in the physical testing that he went through,” manager John Farrell said. “Had there been any kind of discomfort, we certainly would have taken him for imaging. But at this point that wasn’t recommended by the doctor.”

Farrell said Middlebrooks was cleared for all baseball activity.

“It scared me,” said Middlebrooks. “Awkward feeling. Awkward movement of the wrist. Initial zing of pain and that was it.”

Before the incident, Middlebrooks had considered trying a batting glove with some extra protection in the wrist area. He met with a representative from the glove company Thursday.

The third baseman saw a replay of his swing for the first time Thursday.

“It didn’t look good,” he said. “Just freaked me out.

“It was the first time I’d really checked my swing like that and I was kind of caught in between. Wasn’t a normal check swing.”

Lackey goes two

John Lackey went two innings in a 16-6 victory over the Pirates. After an eight-pitch first inning, Lackey threw 35 pitches in the second. One was a hanging curveball that minor league free agent Jared Goedert hit for a three-run homer.

“My arm felt good, and it was a good step in the process,” said Lackey. “Added a couple of breaking balls today; threw a couple of good ones, hung a couple. Good step in the right direction.”

As Lackey returns from Tommy John surgery and a missed season, his progress in spring training will be measured by how he feels more than results.

“It’s going to be a process,” he said. “I’ve talked to several guys about their experiences. I’m still looking for a little bit of a feel because it’s been a while. I feel my arm strength is getting better. I’m encouraged from that standpoint.”

Lackey will start throwing cutters in his next bullpen session but may wait another start before using that pitch in a game.

Bradley stays hot

Jackie Bradley Jr. was 3 for 5 with three runs. He is 8 for 14 in five games this spring. Almost every at-bat has been a good one.

“It’s becoming a recurring theme as we talk about him on the field,” Farrell said.

Even more than his offense, Farrell and the coaching staff have been impressed with how precise Bradley is in center field with the routes he takes to fly balls.

“He’s done an excellent job,” Farrell said.

Farrell said this week that Bradley could contend for a spot on the roster. But the Sox would not promote him unless there were a significant role to play.

“Any time you’re looking at young player who’s still developing, if he’s not going to get a minimum of three days a week at the major league level, it’s probably working against him as he develops into what we would project as an everyday player,” Farrell said.

“We have to temper our enthusiasm with where they are in their career and what their current needs are in their own game.”

Fan of Hanrahan

New Red Sox closer Joel Hanrahan had a 5.00 ERA for the Pirates last September and walked 10 in nine innings. But Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said it’s nothing to be concerned about.

“We couldn’t get save opportunities for him,” said Hurdle. “That complicated things for his mind-set and routine. He did everything he could to stay ready.

“We tried to keep him on some kind of rotation and use him every third day when we could. But we couldn’t get the ball to him in the ninth inning with a lead. He’s a guy who needs to throw to stay on line and stay sharp.”

Hurdle believes Hanrahan will succeed in Boston.

“It’s a different challenge, different environment,” said Hurdle. “That crowd, all of that. He’s built for it. He’s a good man. He’s a tough guy. I would expect good things from him.”

Ortiz expected back

David Ortiz is expected to rejoin the team Friday after being away for two days on personal business in the Dominican Republic . . . The Red Sox, who are experiencing a drop in ticket sales, sent fans an e-mail announcing a program for sharing season tickets. Fans can sign up with the team and browse online for seats being sold. A minimum of five games is required.

Nick Cafardo of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.
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