Middlebrooks out of starting lineup for Game 1

Middlebrooks out of starting lineup for Game 1

Middlebrooks out of starting lineup for Game 1
BOSTON -- As much as Will Middlebrooks would like to play in this weekend's series vs. the Yankees, the Red Sox are being cautious with the rookie's tweaked hamstring.

Middlebrooks was out of the lineup for the fifth consecutive game on Saturday in the first game of a doubleheader. Could the third baseman play in the nightcap?

"Probably not, but I don't know," said manager Bobby Valentine before Game 1. "He was in the office this morning with the training staff, and he's close."

The third baseman did some light running and fielded ground balls at Fenway Park on Saturday morning. He's progressing, but the Sox aren't rushing to get him back in the lineup.

"He hit for almost two innings [during Friday's game], in the cage, and felt nothing," Valentine said. "With those pulled muscles, I always like to give it a day after if someone thinks they feel fine."

Middlebrooks has not played since leaving last Sunday's game vs. the Mariners in the bottom of the ninth inning. Now, it appears likely that he will avoid a trip to the disabled list. With the All-Star break fast approaching, Middlebrooks will have extra time next week to recover without missing any games.

"Some of the madness in not [placing him on the DL] was to have him ready coming out of the break and not miss those five games on the other side of the break," Valentine said. "But if he's perfect today, he can pinch-hit today."

Mauro Gomez started at third base for the third straight game on Saturday in place of Middlebrooks. Entering Saturday, Boston was 0-4 this week without Middlebrooks.