BOS@BAL: Middlebrooks drills a three-run homer

DETROIT -- Will Middlebrooks arrived at Comerica Park on Thursday with a .196 batting average, which was hard to imagine, given that he was probably the bright spot of Boston's otherwise disappointing 2012 season.

Now, with his team winning, Middlebrooks is doing his best not to be down. But he admits it's tough.

"I know who I am, and of course it gets tough sometimes," said Middlebrooks. "You're not used to being a .200 hitter. And I know I'm not. It's not going to stay that way. It's frustrating sometimes. Anybody will tell you that."

Of late, Middlebrooks has faced another challenge -- not playing as regularly as he's accustomed to.

Jose Iglesias has blossomed this season, and manager John Farrell has been rotating him between short and third.

Middlebrooks was in the starting lineup against the Tigers on Thursday, with Iglesias subbing for Stephen Drew at shortstop.

But there were no guarantees about how many other games he would start in the remainder of this four-game series, or for the rest of the season for that matter.

"I've felt better [lately]," Middlebrooks said. "I've had a few hard-hit balls at people. I can't really do anything about that. I haven't been out there consistently, but that's understandable. I know the business side of this. Like I've told them before, I'm here to win. Iggy's swinging a hot bat right now and playing good defense. I know how that goes. I get it."

Middlebrooks has fought through rib and back woes this season and returned from the disabled list on June 10.

In the first 25 at-bats since his return, Middlebrooks is hitting .160 with a homer and four RBIs. Middlebrooks didn't say directly that the injuries are still nagging at him, but he did say his problems have been more physical than mental.

"Mentally I'm there," Middlebrooks said. "It's just been staying healthy. I've hit a couple of bad breaks. I understand that's how it goes. It's something I'm grinding through right now, and hopefully it will get better."

The one thing Middlebrooks knows is that all of his teammates have gone through similar ruts at some point in their baseball lives.

"It's just good to hear guys say, 'I've been there. You'll be out of it.' It's funny, we were watching video and there were probably 15 or 20 balls that are just hit right at people," said Middlebrooks. "You're doing your job. You're doing what you've got to do, and you're not getting results. If those fall, you're hitting .240, which still isn't great, but it isn't whatever I'm hitting right now."

Webster draws Saturday's start against Tigers

KC@BOS: Webster strikes out five in MLB debut

DETROIT -- The Red Sox will call on yet another spot starter for Saturday's game, when Allen Webster gets promoted from Triple-A Pawtucket to fill in for Clay Buchholz.

Webster, ranked by MLB.com as Boston's No. 4 prospect, has started two games for the Red Sox this season.

He did well in his Major League debut, holding the Royals to two earned runs over six innings on April 21. Start No. 2 was a disaster, however, as Webster was shelled by the Twins for six hits and eight runs over 1 2/3 innings on May 8.

"He got predictable against a good fastball-hitting team. I think he learned an important lesson, or at least one challenging experience, that I'm sure served him well as he continues to develop," said Red Sox manager John Farrell.

In 10 starts at Pawtucket, Webster is 5-1 with a 2.98 ERA.

"Much better command [of late]," said Farrell. "And particularly to his fastball. He's worked deeper into games. He's been a little bit more efficient. The stuff has been very consistent, similar to what we've seen here in the two starts than what he showed us in Spring Training. We're looking forward to seeing him here Saturday."

Buchholz takes step toward possible Tuesday return

LAA@BOS: Buchholz leaves game with neck stiffness

DETROIT -- The latest target date for Clay Buchholz to pitch for the Red Sox is on Tuesday night at Fenway Park against the Colorado Rockies.

The right-hander, who is 9-0 in 12 starts, has been dealing with discomfort in his neck and last pitched for Boston on June 9.

"He went out and threw today, out to 100 feet, did some flat ground [work]," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "We're hopeful that he'll get on the mound here in the next day or two. And he'll need to in advance of Tuesday. The ideal scenario would be for him to get an extended bullpen or have some ups and downs in it.

"At this point, we're still scheduled with him on Tuesday, and yet we've got to get through some specific work sessions over the next couple of days to remain consistent with that."

If Buchholz can throw a side session on Saturday, the Red Sox will try to simulate about three innings.

"We're approaching the two-week mark where he hasn't been in a game," Farrell said. "Ideally, he'd get close to three [up and downs], that would be about a 45-pitch bullpen, so that would be the target."