The game plan on A-Rod

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John Harper of the New York Daily News, after talking about how Bartolo Colon and the Angels stymied Alex Rodriguez in the 2005 playoffs by pitching him inside, passes along the Angels’ top-secret plan to contain A-Rod this year:

As a scout from a different AL team said yesterday: “The book on (A-Rod) hasn’t changed over the years. You need to come inside hard, above the hands. That’s where his hole (in his swing) is. If you get his attention in there, then you have a better chance of getting him to chase breaking stuff away.”

I’m reminded of the famous passage in “Ball Four” where Jim Bouton observes that almost every single scouting report for every single hitter is “smoke ’em inside and then get him to chase something away.”

Seems to me that the key thing here isn’t a scouting report, it’s the ability to execute it.  A-Rod may have a hole in his swing, but based on his career numbers, not too many people have been able to find it. 

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.