The Yankees are going to rest A-Rod down the stretch

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There was a lot of harrumphing last night as Joe Girardi used the bullpen’s second string in extra innings against the Rays. That harrumphing led to claims this morning that the Yankees really don’t care about the division and are just playing for the wild card.  I kind of doubt that they’re actually planning on that — baseball teams are always trying to win — it just may be that health and fatigue concerns are making such a course the likely one.

Latest example: A-Rod, who was gimpy on the basepaths last night. Buster Olney suspects that this will lead to a lot of days off for him down the stretch. May be the same for Nick Swisher, actually, as he looked practically crippled trying to run out a ground ball.  He’s having an MRI today.

The Yankees aren’t young. And they haven’t been terribly healthy this year. They are still talented, of course, and will likely prove dangerous in the postseason. But only if they can get back into better shape. Doing things like resting the stars and spelling the pen when necessary will help them do that.

And if it forces them to the wild card, well, so be it. And that’s even if the tabloids go crazy.

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.