There's a new group in the running for the Rangers

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Well, an old-new group, as Houston businessman Jim Crane had previously been mulling an offer before dropping out a month ago.  Now he’s back, reports MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan.  That makes three in the bidding: Crane, Pittsburgh sports lawyer Chuck Greenberg and Beverly Hills insurance man, former agent, and alleged inventor of free agency, Dennis Gilbert.

It’s been reported that Nolan Ryan will bail as team President if Gilbert buys, and that he’ll stay if Greenberg buys, because Ryan is attached to Greenberg’s bid. No word on what happens with Crane. 

Ultimately, however, that won’t be a factor in the bidding, of course. As Sullivan reports “economics will drive this deal.” More specifically, cash, as the seller — Hicks Sports Group — is in desperate need of it, and will likely accept the bid from whoever is able to get it done as quickly as possible.

A decision on which group gets an exclusive negotiating window with Hicks is supposed to come on Tuesday. Of course, the Cubs were supposed to be sold in a fairly quick time frame too and that took three years.

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.