Vote early, vote often … MLB's "Final Vote" is now live

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Yeah, this “Final Vote” stuff is mostly pretty annoying, but it’s the Fourth of July and only a scrooge would complain on a holiday that revolves around barbecue, beer and blowing stuff up.  Oh, and we have a full slate of baseball ahead.  Anyway, here are your candidates:

National League

RP Heath Bell
OF Carlos Gonzalez
1B Joey Votto
RP Billy Wagner
3B Ryan Zimmerman

American League

1B Paul Konerko
OF Nick Swisher
OF Delmon Young
3B Michael Young
1B Kevin Youkilis

You can log on to MLB.com or text “VOTE” to 1122 to select the 35th man on each All-Star roster.  If Votto doesn’t win it in the National League, Reds fans will have some explaining to do.  Come on,  Cincy!

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.