Ryan Dempster worried about far more than baseball

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Ryan Dempster has a lot on his plate, and not just in making preparations to head to Mesa, Ariz., for spring training.

The Chicago Cubs pitcher is dealing with a personal battle as well, trying to help his 10-month old daughter deal with a serious ailment. (From the New York Times):

Ryan and Jenny Dempster’s 10-month-old daughter, Riley, was born with DiGeorge syndrome, a developmental disorder caused by a defective chromosome. She requires nearly constant medical attention.

Her digestive system has been affected. Unable to swallow, Riley spends mealtime tethered to a feeding tube, while another tube in her tiny throat allows for the draining of built-up secretions that could seep into her lungs and impair breathing. It’s her only manifestation of the illness.

Riley Dempster has spent more than three months in hospitals in Chicago, Philadelphia and Phoenix, and has had four surgeries. The Dempsters hope that physical therapy will help her strengthen the muscles used to swallow and that she will eventually learn to do so.

Meanwhile, Dempster and his wife have started a foundation to help raise awareness – and money – for the cause, in part to help others who can’t afford treatment.

You can read all about it here.

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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.