Shoulder setback sends Flores to Dr. Andrews

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When the Nationals signed Ivan Rodriguez to a two-year, $6 million deal I wondered, among other things, why they were paying so much for another catcher when they already had 25-year-old Jesus Flores atop the depth chart.
At the time Flores was recovering from shoulder surgery, but most reports had him being ready as soon as Opening Day. Fast forward three months and his status for all of 2010 appears to be in jeopardy. Flores became frustrated with his recovery after being unable to throw from 120 feet Monday and is headed to Alabama for a visit with Dr. James Andrews.
Rather than a typical examination, Flores is expected to spend 10 days with Andrews for “treatment and evaluation.” Jim Riggleman said this morning that Flores will begin the season on the disabled list regardless of what Andrews recommends, and as is the case any time a player sees baseball’s most famous doctor another surgery could be right around the corner.
Either way Rodriguez is now the Nationals’ unquestioned starting catcher and Wil Nieves is now his backup. I’m still not sure why they needed to give a two-year, $6 million deal to a 38-year-old catcher who hit .249/.280/.384 last season, but if the Nationals had serious doubts about Flores’ recovery all along their motivation for pursuing Rodriguez is certainly easier to understand.

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.