BOSTON -- Julie Middlebrooks wanted her only son, Will, to play piano.
He tried it for a little while, then quickly switched his focus to athletics.
His mom "doesn't have an athletic bone in her body," Middlebrooks said, but he took some time on Mother's Day to remember the important role that she did play in his career.
"She made sure I knew from the beginning, [that] any time I started something, I had to finish it," he said. "She made it clear that teammates are the closest thing to family, and you don't want to let your family down, so [you] don't let your teammates down."
Middlebrooks' father, Tom, was an assistant baseball and football coach at Liberty-Eylau High School in Texarkana, Texas, where Will played.
That left Julie to provide the support to Will and his younger sisters, Lacey and Mary. Over the course of one afternoon, Julie often had to watch one of Will's games, then drive to the softball diamond to watch Lacey, who graduated from Tulsa University on Saturday after posting a 1.76 ERA in 123 innings her senior season.
Youngest sister Mary is an art major who took after her mother, an art teacher.
"She would even go to half a game and half a game just to see both," Middlebrooks said. "She was all over the place. I can't tell you how many miles she put on her car, trying to get to games just to see an inning or two. So it's been a lot. Not coming from an athletic background or anything, she's really taken it all in."
Middlebrooks, who hit .288 with 15 homers his rookie season, is scuffling at the plate this year, with a .202 average. But he wouldn't be in the Majors without his mom.
"She was all about bringing us up the right way," he said.
The Red Sox joined in MLB's celebration of Mother's Day on Sunday, incorporating pink attire into their uniforms in support of breast cancer research. Shortstop Stephen Drew even used a Louisville Slugger-designed pink bat.
Rest, not results, reason behind Papi's day off
BOSTON -- David Ortiz was out of the lineup for Sunday's series finale against the Blue Jays, but it had nothing to do with his performance at the plate -- he has one hit in his last 20 at-bats. Ortiz played all nine games over the last nine days.
Ortiz was also unavailable as a pinch-hitter, manager John Farrell said.
"It's part of what we had laid out, to also take advantage of the off-day tomorrow, to give him two days down," said Farrell. "That's what this is today."
Since seeing his 27-game hitting streak come to an end, Ortiz has seen his average drop from .414 to .333.
"He might have been pulling off the ball more than when he first rejoined us," Farrell said. "There's nothing abnormal here. We'd love to think he's going to hit .500 for the whole year, but that's probably going to tail off at some point.
"When he was in that good stretch when he first started, he was driving balls to straightaway left and left-center, which he got back to yesterday with the base hit to left. He's squared some balls up that haven't found a hole or carried, as they had when he first rejoined us. I can't say there's any one major issue he's dealing with mechanically."
With Ortiz out, Mike Napoli got a rare day to rest his legs while taking over at designated hitter and homered in the 12-4 loss. Mike Carp got the start at first base.
Sox place Ross on seven-day DL, call up Lavarnway
BOSTON -- Catcher David Ross was placed on the seven-day concussion disabled list before Sunday's 12-4 loss to the Blue Jays. Ryan Lavarnway was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket to take his place on the active roster.
Ross sustained the injury during Saturday's 3-2 loss, when he took a pair of foul balls off his mask.
Ross, who was feeling "foggy" later that night, has sustained one other concussion in his career, after being knocked over by Mike Cameron in a home-plate collision in 2007.
"Given his position, we can't put him at risk with any additional foul balls or foul tips to the mask," manager John Farrell said.
Lavarnway has been swinging a hot bat with the PawSox, hitting.321 with seven doubles, two home runs, 15 RBIs, 16 runs and 13 walks.
Victorino cleared to play after hospital tests
BOSTON -- Shane Victorino, who earlier this season missed a week and a half because of stiffness in his lower back, passed his tests at Massachusetts General Hospital on Monday and was cleared to play when the Red Sox open a road trip Tuesday at Tampa Bay.
Victorino was taken to the hospital after Sunday's 12-4 loss to the Blue Jays, during which he made hard contact with the right-field wall while trying to rob Emilio Bonifacio of a home run in the fourth inning. He appeared to hit his ribs on the short wall, and he immediately fell to the ground. After a visit from the training staff, he remained in the game and took his next at-bat, and wasn't removed until the seventh.
"The way Shane hit the wall, he started to stiffen up as the game went on," said manager John Farrell. "And given what he's been dealing with, low back-wise, we weren't going to take any chances further today."
Bailey takes next step toward return
BOSTON -- Andrew Bailey was scheduled to throw an intensified long-toss session on Sunday, taking the next step in his return from the 15-day disabled list.
Bailey, out since April 29 with a strained right biceps, won't be ready to return on Tuesday, when he's eligible to come off the DL, but the progress has been encouraging. He's scheduled to throw a mound session on Tuesday and will be re-evaluated afterward to determine whether he'll need to make a rehab assignment.
Bailey's return will take some pressure off Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara in the late innings.
At their current rates of usage, Tazawa, who threw 44 innings last year, is on pace to throw about 71, and Uehara, who threw 36 innings last year, is on pace to throw about 65.
"We'd like to think that we keep any one of our relievers out of the top 10 in the league [in innings pitched], but Junichi's up there," manager John Farrell said. "We know that. It's also a little bit of a function of the April that we had, so many games that we were leading late. We had to go to him multiple times, he and Koji both. In time, in the role he's in now, that will start to probably come back to the pack a little bit."
Farrell anticipates sticking with one closer, preferring defined roles over a closer-by-committee approach.
"I think it's best for everyone in that bullpen to know who the closer is," he said. "Guys will slot in roles previous to that or prior to the usage of the closer. In terms of everyone knowing where they stand and the role that they occupy, that's important to their own mental preparation as the game is nearing that seventh-through-ninth-inning period."