By BRENDAN McGAIR
PAWTUCKET â€“ The night was August 10, 2012. The setting was Clevelandâ€™s Progressive Field.
In the top of the ninth inning of that nightâ€™s American League contest between Boston and Cleveland, Will Middlebrooks had an Esmil Rogersâ€™ pitch go off his right wrist that proved to be the final pitch he would see in his rookie season. A few days later, Middlebrooks was diagnosed with a broken wrist.
â€śHe didnâ€™t mean to hit me then,â€ť said Middlebrooks on Friday night after getting plunked with an offering from (guess who?) Rogers on the back in the fifth inning. The third baseman, who was playing his first game in a week, clearly took exception as he took his time walking down to first base.
â€śI thought tonight â€¦ I didnâ€™t agree with tonight just because there was a base open,â€ť said Middlebrooks, who played all nine innings in Pawtucketâ€™s wild, come-from-behind 4-3 win over Buffalo. â€śIâ€™m not going to charge the mound, especially here (at McCoy Stadium). Iâ€™m here to get innings, not try to fight people.
â€śDid it (tick) me off? Yeah, it would (tick) anyone off,â€ť Middlebrooks continued. â€ś(Rogers) is a big leaguer and he knows better than that. Heâ€™s a good guy and a good pitcher and I think his emotions got the better of him.â€ť
With tempers reaching Fahrenheit levels, Pawtucket DH Corey Brown walked in the direction of Rogers after striking out to end the sixth inning. The display prompted both benches and bullpens to empty as away the PawSox and Bisons went, shouting and pushing before things calmed down and order was eventually restored.
â€ś(Rogers) made a gesture toward our dugout. Heâ€™s better than that,â€ť said Middlebrooks, who played all nine innings and went 0-for-2 with one RBI. He plans to play for the PawSox Saturday. â€śHe apologized and I doubt it will happen again. You live and you learn. Sometimes your emotions get the best of you.â€ť
Said PawSox manager Kevin Boles, â€śThe display on the mound was a little bit questionable and our guys got a little bit fired up about it. If guys are going to get beat, do it with class. Our guys aren't going to back down. We know that and we saw that tonight.â€ť
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03