Padres News: Who’s on First?

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Will Middlebrooks

Sep 1, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks (16) throws the ball to first for an out against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Padres acquired Will Middlebrooks from the Boston Red Sox this off-season for Ryan Hanigan. Middlebrooks was once a top prospect, but since the wrist injury ended his rookie career, he hasn’t been the same.

During his 2012 rookie season, the Red Sox moved fan favorite Kevin Youkilis to open up third base for him and it looked like it was going to be a move that paid off. Middlebrooks rewarded the Sox for their faith in him by hitting .288/.325/.509 with 15 home runs and 54 RBI in 75 games. He had potential superstar written all over him, but then everything changed. The past two seasons he’s hit .213/.265/.364 with 19 home runs in 157 games. That’s a far cry from from where he was in 2012.

Maybe a change of scenery is what Middlebrooks needs to resurrect his 2012 form. Boston is one of the toughest places to play and the media hit him hard when he started to struggle. One benefit the Padres may have from his struggles is that when he was sent down to AAA, Middlebrooks had a chance to work at first base. Now in San Diego the plan is for him to compete for the third base job with Yangervis Solarte, but if Solarte wins the job, Middlebrooks will need his added positional versatility to keep him in the big leagues.

If he starts to get regular at bats in a much lower pressure situation, Middlebrooks might thrive. Even if he can just bring back the power he showed as a rookie, he may be able to force his way into the Padres’ lineup regardless if it’s at first or third.