Link-O-Rama: Slothburg, LeVon, and LaPorta

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* Washington Post blogger Dan Steinberg put together a nice roundup of stories about just how out of shape Stephen Strasburg was when he first arrived at San Diego State. He weighed 250 pounds, was throwing up 10 minutes into the team’s first workout, had teammates wondering if there was something medically wrong with him, and earned the nickname “Slothburg.” And now just two years later he’s the best pitching prospect in baseball with a deal worth over $15 million. Amazing.
* Speaking of draft picks, the Rays are accused of not attempting to sign first rounder LeVon Washington. Washington’s father explained that the Rays didn’t live up to a pre-draft agreement and never increased their offer from the recommended slot bonus, adding: “I’m convinced that they didn’t want to sign him.” Offering the slot bonus is hardly out of line, but the Rays may have decided that they weren’t all that high on anyone available with at No. 30 and would rather take their chances with a compensation pick one place lower next year.
* Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes that Indians manager Eric Wedge avoided giving Matt LaPorta consistent playing time earlier this season because he was “still trying to orchestrate a miracle by getting the Indians back in contention” and “was also trying to save his job.” While that’s no doubt true, the notion that playing one of the better hitting prospects in baseball wouldn’t have helped on both of those fronts is odd to say the least.
* Brandon Phillips exited this afternoon’s game with a sore left wrist, which is where he was plunked by a J.D. Martin fastball over the weekend.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.