Veteran umpires Jerry Crawford, Chuck Meriwether, and Mike Reilly retiring

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MLB announced today that Jerry Crawford, Chuck Meriwether, and Mike Reilly are retiring after combining for more than 80 years as big-league umpires.

Crawford has been on the job since 1977 and became the game’s senior umpire when Ed Montague retired last year. Reilly became an MLB umpire in 1983 and Meriwether, who missed last season due to an injury, was hired in 1993.

According to the Associated Press their replacements are Scott Barry and Brian Knight. Last year Rob Drake, Chad Fairchild, James Hoye, and Adrian Johnson joined the roster when veterans Montague, Randy Marsh, Rick Reed, and Charlie Reliford retired, so the stable of MLB umpires has gotten significantly younger and less experienced in the past 18 months. Which, given some of the criticisms lobbed at the umpires’ performance in recent years, may not be such a bad thing.

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.