Plenty of recognizable names leaving MLB for Japan in 2011

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I’ve written a lot of words this offseason about Tsuyoshi Nishioka signing with the Twins and Hisashi Iwakuma failing to sign with the A’s after their Japanese teams “posted” them, but the list of MLB players heading in the opposite direction is pretty interesting too.

Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker and Fan Graphs has all the details on former major leaguers going to Japan and it’s an amusing list of washed-up former stars (Chan Ho Park, Chad Tracy, Byung-Hyun Kim), top prospect busts (Bryan Bullington, Joel Guzman, Wladimir Balentien), and role players who for whatever reason never seemed to get any traction in MLB (Micah Hoffpauir, Rusty Ryal, Jonathan Albaladejo).

Newman also notes that both Kaz Matsui and Akinori Iwamura are returning to Japan after spending a combined 11 seasons in MLB.

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.