BOSTON -- Third baseman Will Middlebrooks reached an important milestone in his comeback a couple of days ago when he was able to shed the hard cast from his fractured right wrist.
Middlebrooks still wears a soft cast at times, but he is slowly ramping back up toward baseball activities.
The hope now, said Middlebrooks, is that he can take batting practice before the season ends and start his offseason on a good note.
Middlebrooks is confident that he'll be fully ready for the start of Spring Training and that the injury won't impact his production going forward.
Being reduced to spectator status since his injury on Aug. 10 has been crushing to Middlebrooks.
"I hate not being there for my team," said Middlebrooks. "I'm not a very good cheerleader."
Dice-K guaranteed to make at least one more start
BOSTON -- Right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka will get at least one more try in manager Bobby Valentine's rotation this season. That determination was made after Matsuzaka had an encouraging bullpen session prior to the Red Sox's game against the Yankees on Tuesday night.
Matsuzaka, who is coming off two disappointing outings, will take the ball on Friday night when the Red Sox open a seven-game road trip in Toronto.
"He looked real good," Valentine said. "Talked to him today, think we might have found something that feels good about him."
When asked to elaborate, Valentine indicated it was a mechanical adjustment.
"Yeah, a little thing out of the stretch that he felt better about," Valentine said. "His command wasn't good out of the stretch the other day. Hopefully his command will be better next time."
Valentine has also decided to stick with lefty Felix Doubront, who is currently at a career-high 134 2/3 innings.
Doubront will pitch the finale of this three-game series against the Yankees on Thursday.
"Felix looks good and feels good -- absolutely," Valentine said.
Valentine unfazed about speculation over his job
BOSTON -- Manager Bobby Valentine knows his job security has been a topic in numerous media outlets in recent weeks, but he continues to seem unfazed by it.
"I haven't lost any sleep only because when I get to bed, I'm worn out. These games have worn me out, to tell you the truth, very often," Valentine said.
Valentine told Boston Herald columnist Steve Buckley a few days ago that he expects to manage the Red Sox in 2013, the final year of his two-year contract.
Valentine was asked to elaborate on that statement prior to Tuesday's game against the Yankees.
"Why wouldn't I think it until I'm told otherwise? This is a continuous question," Valentine said. "It's like one of those things. Is something going to happen? Well, until it doesn't ... "
Would Valentine like to have his situation resolved sooner rather than later?
"Oh, much later -- four or five years from now, I'd say, at least," quipped Valentine.
Valentine's pregame news conference started in bizarre fashion on Tuesday, as a local talk show host asked him to tell fans why he should be the team's manager for 2013 and beyond.
"I feel bad for those fans. I don't have to make a case for them though. I've suffered with them," Valentine said.
Then, Valentine showed a playful side when asked to elaborate.
"I'm the best man for the job," said Valentine. "Was that a tough question by the way? That's the beginning of the press conference? There's a tough one!"
Jarrod Saltalamacchia got a third consecutive game off due to recent back spasms. The hope is that he can start Wednesday night.
The Red Sox were still awaiting word on the MRI for lefty Franklin Morales, but Valentine reiterated there's little reason to have him pitch again this season.
Boston is staying in the American League East for the remainder of 2012, playing their final 21 games within the division.