Orioles hire Mark Connor as pitching coach

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The Orioles have hired a pitching coach.

According to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, the O’s agreed to a contract last week with Mark Connor, a 61-year-old veteran of the pitching coach profression.  He is good friends with manager Buck Showalter and the two worked side-by-side for the Yankees, Diamondbacks and Rangers during the 90s and 2000s.  Connor has spent 35 years as a baseball coach.  He was most recently a special assistant in the Rangers’ player development department.

The Orioles continue to fill out their 2011 coaching staff.  Jim Presley will serve as hitting coach, Wayne Kirby will handle first base and Rick Adair is locked in as the club’s bullpen coach.  Showalter is trying to lure in Don Wakamatsu to be his bench coach and Juan Samuel has not yet committed to coaching third base but is expected to.

O’s president Andy MacPhail told the Baltimore Sun that he is “pleased” with the current crop of coaches.  It’s a nice roster of names and the Orioles do have a nice level of young talent, but we’ll see how it all works out in the ever-tough American League East.

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.