8/14/2013 12:57 A.M. ET
Middlebrooks' focus on helping Sox, not past woes
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
TORONTO -- Will Middlebrooks can't control the hitting problems or the health woes he had earlier in the season, two things that contributed to his stunning return to the Minor Leagues.
All the third baseman cares about now is fueling the Red Sox for the stretch run. And that's exactly what he did Tuesday night at Rogers Centre, coming up with two key hits and some big plays on defense in a 4-2, 11-inning win over the Blue Jays.
This was the third game back for Middlebrooks since his recall from Triple-A Pawtucket.
"It's been a grind of a month and a half," Middlebrooks said. "It feels good to get some results after you go down and work your butt off."
After the 2-for-5 performance, Middlebrooks has a .205 average on the season.
"I'm not even looking up at the scoreboard," Middlebrooks said. "I've put away all individual things. I want to be here with these guys, and I want to do something to help us win."
Influenced by a cast of determined veterans, Middlebrooks is looking to help the Red Sox complete their push to the postseason.
Following Tuesday's win, the Sox led the Rays by four games in the American League East.
"Someone asked if I had any individual goals, and I said no. I want to win a World Series," Middlebrooks said. "I want to do something every game to help us win. If I can do at least one thing to help us win a ballgame, that's what it's about."
Middlebrooks was in from Pawtucket from June 25-Aug. 9.
His manager has already noticed a difference since his return.
"He looks more relaxed, a little more confident," said John Farrell. "Makes a handful of good plays down at third base. He played a solid game for us tonight."
Pedroia, Gomes, Salty take in Jays-A's matinee
TORONTO -- After one of those grueling parts of the schedule in which the Red Sox were at the ballpark for 24 straight days, Monday finally represented a day for the players to get away from it all.
So how did Dustin Pedroia, Jonny Gomes and Jarrod Saltalamacchia enjoy their day of leisure in Toronto?
By going to Rogers Centre to watch the A's play the Blue Jays in a matinee.
Gomes, having played for the A's last year, was the ringleader for the excursion, lining up the tickets.
Naturally, the trio was spotted on camera, and the shot of three Red Sox players watching a game in street clothes made it into several highlight packages, both in Boston and nationally.
"It's so funny," said Gomes. "I think everyone I knew texted me, like, 'Hey, I see you at the game. What are you doing? The same thing you are', is what I told them. 'Watching the game.' Everyone was watching the game, whether that's at a bar or a restaurant or their hotel room or back home."
Given their status as Major League players, Gomes suggested to Pedroia and Saltalamacchia that perhaps they enter the stadium through a private entrance on the clubhouse level.
"They were like, 'No, we want the full experience. The fan experience.' We stood in line," Gomes said. "We went through the thing, had them check our tickets. They got the whole experience."
For Gomes, a certifiable baseball junkie, this wasn't an unusual experience. Back when his brother played in independent leagues, Gomes used to attend when his schedule allowed. Gomes also estimates he's been to five or six World Series as a spectator.
For Saltalamacchia and Pedroia, however, it had been a while.
"My last big league game I've been to [before Monday] was when I was 18," Saltalamacchia said. "I went and watched Atlanta play Tampa Bay. It was not as good a seats [as Monday].
The Red Sox weren't the only "celebrities" taking in the game. Geddy Lee, the lead singer of Canadian rock band Rush, was also on hand.
"He was keeping score and everything. He was pretty intense," said Saltalamacchia.
The Red Sox players chose not to talk to Lee.
"Kind of the same boat we're in," Saltalamacchia said. "We don't want to mess with anyone on their day off."
Though people in Boston seemed to be intrigued that the players attended a game as spectators, manager John Farrell wasn't surprised.
"Not one bit," Farrell said. "Not from getting to know this group, how important the game is to each guy individually. To see them here on an off-day is probably all within the things we've witnessed throughout the course of the year."
His '14 option vested, Uehara happy to be returning
TORONTO -- When the Red Sox announced the signing of Koji Uehara to a one-year deal back in December, there was no mention of an option for 2014.
However, one does exist, and it vested when Uehara made his 55th appearance of the season Tuesday night against the Blue Jays.
Given how much Uehara has meant to the Red Sox this season, the option -- worth $4.25 million -- was a shrewd maneuver by Boston.
And Uehara is excited to know he will return to a place he has felt comfortable since the day he arrived.
"I feel that all the teammates, staff members have been taking care of me," Uehara said. "I think that has absolutely contributed to my good performance."
Uehara has been one of the most valuable players on the Red Sox.
"He's been an outstanding pitcher for us from Day 1. We don't foresee that changing because of the competitor he is and how talented he is and how he prepares," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "He's done one hell of a job in the roles that he has filled."
In Tuesday's game, Uehara retired all four batters he faced to pick up the win in the Red Sox's 4-2, 11-inning victory over the Blue Jays.
For the season, he is 3-0 with a 1.32 ERA.
Uehara started the season as a setup man before his promotion to the closer role June 21.
"He's been efficient. And by moving to the [closer] role, he knows when he's going to pitch," said Farrell. "I have to believe there is some mental preparation that goes into that outing on a given night, not wondering if it's the seventh or the eighth. He can gear up and prepare the two innings leading up to it. But gosh, you can't take away from how efficient he's been. He's been a savior for us."
With Joel Hanrahan, Andrew Bailey and Andrew Miller all out for the season, Uehara has been a constant for Farrell.
"From a team standpoint, when you close out those games you're supposed to win, I think that eliminates any demoralizing feeling when those games slip away," Farrell said.
While Uehara is pleased he will be back with the Red Sox next season, he didn't spend a lot of time thinking about the option.
"I didn't think about it at all," Uehara said. "If I did, I wouldn't be able to pitch as I've been pitching lately."
Kalish undergoes cervical fusion surgery in LA
TORONTO -- Late in the 2010 season, corner outfielder Ryan Kalish seemed primed to become a staple for the Red Sox for many years to come.
But since a nasty collision at Pawtucket in April of '11, Kalish has spent far more time recovering from injuries than anything else.
On Tuesday, Kalish underwent yet another procedure -- cervical fusion surgery. The surgery was performed by Dr. Robert Watkins in Los Angeles.
Kalish hadn't played a game in the Majors or Minors this season as he'd been recovering from offseason right shoulder surgery.
"That's unfortunate," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "Obviously it's one of some severity and hopefully through the rehab that he gets back to the player that he was when he first came up because he was an exciting young player. He was a guy that was good on both sides of the ball and handled himself as a real pro and we're hopeful he gets back to that level."
How did the neck surgery come about?
"I'm not fully aware of the entire history of it, but I know when he first had the neck examined there were [different] schools of thought on the best approach to take," Farrell said. "At the time it was a recommendation to have this procedure done, but it was probably the most invasive and drastic, and he has to go through it.
"You lose that length of time missed, and that's hard to get back, if you ever get back. I think the first and foremost thing is to get back to the point of getting healthy and not competing against your body. After that, whatever steps are needed to regain the timing remains to be seen. Hopefully the first objective can be met and that's to get back on the field."
• Right-hander Clay Buchholz (right bursa sac strain) worked mostly on mechanics during a light throwing session Monday, and was scheduled to throw a full bullpen session before Tuesday's game in Toronto. If that goes well, Buchholz will likely throw a simulated game at Fenway Park over the weekend, perhaps his final step needed before being sent out on a Minor League rehab assignment.
• Backup catcher David Ross continued his rehab from a concussion at Triple-A Pawtucket on Monday.
"He will catch hopefully five to six innings tonight with Pawtucket, get three at-bats," said Farrell. "Likely DH tomorrow and then as he gets back behind the plate, there will be increased number of innings caught, to the point of catching back-to-back games, by the end of the week."
The plan remains for Ross to be activated by the Red Sox on Monday, when they open a West Coast trip in San Francisco.
• Lefty Matt Thornton is making progress from the right oblique strain that has sidelined him since Aug. 5.
"He threw flat ground today after he threw long toss," Farrell said. "No symptoms in the oblique that he's been dealing with, so he's advancing pretty good given our first initial thought when he first walked off the mound."
Thornton, who is eligible to return on Aug. 20, will pitch in a Minor League game or two before he is activated.
"I think with that injury you have to get back to full speed in some setting so he's not, one, tentative, and two, we don't prolong it by not testing it initially," Farrell said.