Two weeks ago, before making his return from the disabled list and ceding his position to the Red Sox’ latest flavor of the month, Will Middlebrooks sat in a room in Syracuse, N.Y., and got a half-hour pep talk from a trusted mentor.
The dejà vu was undeniable.
Middlebrooks had been here before. Maybe not in this exact office, but certainly in a similar situation. In 2008, three weeks into his pro career, he was 9-for-57 with one extra-base hit for the short-season Lowell Spinners when manager Gary DiSarcina called him in for a meeting. Only 19, and with his head hanging so low it could’ve dragged the infield, Middlebrooks received simple advice: Trust your ability and compete.
Now, five years later, DiSarcina is back with the Sox, managing at Triple-A Pawtucket, and with Middlebrooks having recovered from a strained lower back but still coping with the bruised ego brought on by a sub-.200 batting average, DiSarcina took the opportunity during a recent a five-game rehab assignment to meet with him once again.
“It reminded me very much of the conversations we had in Lowell,” DiSarcina said recently, “and the same message was delivered. Back then, he was giving away at-bats left and right. He was a high school kid in a college league. He was swinging at balls in the dirt. Probably very similar to what he’s going through right now. It was very ironic to be giving him the same message: Trust in your ability and compete.”
This is what it looks like to come full circle.