NEW YORK -- If you can navigate through the first eight batters of the Red Sox's lineup, your reward is facing Will Middlebrooks, who might be the hottest hitter on his team.
Middlebrooks is dispelling the notion that the No. 9 spot in the order is an easy out. The third baseman went deep for the third straight night on Friday, helping the Red Sox to a 12-8 win vs. the Yankees.
"I feel good," Middlebrooks said. "My confidence is getting higher and higher. When it's good, it doesn't last. When it's bad, it doesn't last. Stay even-keeled and don't ride that roller coaster. It's a humbling game for sure. You just have to learn not to ride that emotional roller coaster. If you get too high, it'll bite you. If you get too low, it'll bite you."
At the moment, manager John Farrell doesn't feel the need to make a change in the batting order, and that speaks volumes of how well the Red Sox are playing as a team.
"I think the one thing we've tried to do is maintain continuity throughout the course of the year," said Farrell. "That doesn't mean we haven't made some adjustments to the lineup, but there's some guys ahead of him that are swinging the bat pretty well in addition to that. We're not looking to make wholesale changes."
Since his recall from Pawtucket, Middlebrooks is hitting .350 with five homers and 15 RBIs.
"Fundamentally, he has a little bit more of a squared stance in the box, and that's allowed the bat path to give him plate coverage," Farrell said. "But the thing that stands out more than anything is, I think he feels better about himself standing in the box. There's greater confidence."
Farrell not ready to say when Buchholz will join rotation
NEW YORK -- Presumably, Clay Buchholz will return to the Red Sox's starting rotation on Tuesday night when they open a three-game series at Tropicana Field against the Rays.
However, manager John Farrell will wait just a bit before making a definitive announcement.
After pitching his final Minor League rehab game for Triple-A Pawtucket on Thursday, Buchholz went home to spend time with his wife and newborn baby.
He will return to the Red Sox on Saturday, at which point the team will start outlining definitive plans for his return to action.
Ryan Dempster, who could be the odd man out when Buchholz returns, hadn't heard anything yet and was still going under the assumption he would pitch Tuesday.
"No change in the rotation as of yet," said Farrell. "Clay is back in Boston. He'll travel here tomorrow and throw his bullpen [session] with us here on Sunday. And at that point, we're just making sure that we go through every step physically before we make any adjustments to the rotation going forward."
In the Triple-A playoff game against Rochester, Buchholz gave up four hits and two runs over 3 2/3 innings, walking two and striking out five.
"Power was consistent to not only his previous outing but when he was active with us earlier in the year," Farrell said. "Spoke to him live this afternoon. He feels good coming out of the outing physically. Felt like with each inning that he's pitched, the increase in command and action to his secondary pitch is gaining that consistency. He's in a pretty good place from a mental standpoint in addition to physically being sound."
Ellsbury out of lineup with pain in right foot
NEW YORK -- The Red Sox played Friday night's game without invaluable leadoff man Jacoby Ellsbury, who was experiencing some pain in the right foot that he fouled a ball off of on the last homestand.
"Last night in that final stolen base, he aggravated that right foot," said manager John Farrell. "Throughout the night, he had increased pain, some throbbing. It was there again today. So he's off his feet. He'll get treatment throughout the course of the game tonight."
Farrell said that Ellsbury would "hopefully" be in Saturday's lineup.
Shane Victorino took over center field and the leadoff spot in Ellsbury's absence. Jonny Gomes batted second and played left. Daniel Nava started in right.
The Red Sox are confident there is nothing significantly wrong with Ellsbury. Farrell said no follow-up X-rays or MRI's were taken.
Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia was also out of the lineup for a fourth straight game with back stiffness, and he could return by Saturday afternoon.