Matsui sees first outfield action since mid-2008

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Hideki Matsui started in the outfield this afternoon for the first time since June of 2008, as the Angels hope his knees will be able to handle at least occasional defensive duties this season.
In fact, according to Lyle Spencer of MLB.com “the Angels’ plan is to give him a few starts in left field a week, if possible, to provide DH opportunities” for fellow outfielders Torii Hunter, Juan Rivera, and Bobby Abreu plus first baseman Kendry Morales and catcher Mike Napoli.
That seems like an exaggeration given that “a few starts in left field” each week would essentially mean he’s splitting time evenly between designated hitter and the outfield.
More likely is that Matsui sees one or maybe two starts per week in left field, allowing the Angels to rest other players at DH while also potentially keeping Napoli in the lineup on days he isn’t behind the plate. Barring an injury to Abreu or Rivera it would surprise me if Matsui ended up playing defense in more than a couple dozen games.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with left ankle 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.