Ron Gardenhire sticks with his regulars for Game 3 vs. Yanks

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Twins manager Ron Gardenhire hinted at possibly using Alexi Casilla in place of J.J. Hardy or Danny Valencia with the team facing elimination in Game 3 against the Yankees tonight, but he has all of his regulars in there against Phil Hughes (via Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune).

Denard Span, CF
Orlando Hudson, 2B
Joe Mauer, C
Jason Kubel, RF
Delmon Young, LF
Jim Thome, DH
Michael Cuddyer, 1B
Danny Valencia, 3B
J.J. Hardy, SS

The lefty-heavy Twins weren’t able to muster much in the way of offense against southpaws CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte over the first two games of the series, but they should be a bit more comfortable Phil Hughes tonight. 17 of the 25 home runs that Hughes allowed during the regular season came against left-handed batters. Unsurprisingly, opposing batters had a 754 OPS against Hughes at the hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium this season compared to a 624 OPS on the road.   

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.