Scouts: Raul Ibanez's bat speed is way down

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Raul Ibanez headshot.jpgOne of the reasons I am a bit less optimistic about the Phillies this year? Given his age, Raul Ibanez is way more likely to put up a full season of his second half production from last year than he is to put up even a half season of what he did in April and May last year.  Buster Olney talks to scouts who agree:

There is a lot of buzz among scouts about what is perceived to be the
diminished bat speed of Raul Ibanez, the Phillies’ left fielder. “The good thing is that they can
hide him in that lineup,” one scout said. “He’s a smart hitter, so
he’ll guess right enough to do some damage. But he’s vulnerable now to
hard stuff inside — you should pound him with fastballs. I can’t see
them keeping him in the No. 6 spot for the whole year; [Shane] Victorino
is a better hitter.”

Worth mentioning that every scout’s answer for everything is “you should pound him with fastballs in” but I do agree that anyone banking on yet another career year from Ibanez this season is of a particularly optimistic disposition about such things.

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.