Middlebrooks makes debut as first baseman

Middlebrooks makes debut as first baseman

BOSTON -- Will Middlebrooks made 153 of his first 154 career Major League starts at third base. He was the designated hitter once.

Until Saturday night, when Middlebrooks got his first career start at first base against the Blue Jays, a position he had never played before, at any level. He had worked out there a few times this week. Middlebrooks doesn't own a first baseman's glove and had to borrow Mike Napoli's.

But Middlebrooks is an athlete, according to manager John Farrell. And with the American League East title in hand, adding defensive versatility was too good of an idea to pass up.

"There may be the potential of a situation in the postseason where if we pinch-run for Nap, does [Middlebrooks] go over to first?" Farrell said.

If the Red Sox advance to the World Series and need to double-switch at a National League park, the versatility would be especially useful.

"This is a good time to feel it out and get used to it," Middlebrooks said. "It's not too hard, I don't think. The ball in between me and the pitcher and second base is the one I really have to get the feel for. The balls curve the opposite way as third base. It's glove side. I shouldn't have to go back there as much. I'm not too worried about it. I'm trying not to overthink it."

Farrell said the most difficult part of the transition is identifying which balls are worth going after and which Middlebrooks should let go and retreat to cover the bag.

"But again, he's an infielder, he's required to do some things [that are] reactionary and that's going to be the same at first base," Farrell said.

Jason Mastrodonato is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @jmastrodonato. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.