Third baseman Will Middlebrooks took batting practice at the Red Sox spring training complex in Fort Myers on Thursday, another sign that the injury to his right hand is not as bad as initially thought.

Middlebrooks -- who earlier in the day told reporters that he felt "fine" -- was examined by the team’s hand specialist, Dr. Tom Holovacs, and cleared for baseball activities without the need for further tests. After the exam, he took a full round of batting practice.

“That’s all good news,” manager John Farrell said after the Sox’ 16-6 win over the Pirates here. “That’s all good news. From the report I have, it was a regular batting practice. I’m sure it was controlled, but the fact that he was able to swing a bat and test it out, all positives.”

If Middlebrooks has no issues with his hand on Friday, Farrell said he would not hesitate to put the third baseman in the lineup when the Sox host the Pirates tomorrow night.

“Based on the exam this morning -- which, again, was benign, and he was cleared for all activity today -- we’re in good shape,” Farrell said.

Middlebrooks left Wednesday’s game against the Orioles in Sarasota in the middle of his first at-bat, clutching his right hand. It was the same hand he fractured on Aug. 10, ending his season, when he was hit by a pitch.