Jason Castro likely to miss entire season with torn ACL

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Jason Castro’s season is over before it even began, as the Astros catcher has been diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and torn medial meniscus in his right knee.

Castro, who suffered the injury Wednesday while running to first base, is expected to be sidelined for at least six months. That leaves some chance that he could return in September, but with the Astros likely to be well out of contention by that point they’ll have no reason to rush the 24-year-old former No. 10 overall pick back into the lineup.

His injury leaves the Astros with the same catching situation they had prior to calling up Castro from the minors in the middle of last season. Humberto Quintero is now atop the depth chart and one-time “catcher of the future” J.R. Towles now seems likely to make the team (and get one final shot at sticking in the majors) as his backup. Carlos Corporan, Brian Esposito, and Rene Garcia are the other catchers in camp.

Towles is still young enough to potentially step up and show that his solid minor-league numbers are for real, but so far he’s hit just .189 in 101 games in the majors. Quintero is a 31-year-old career-long backup who’s hit just .232 with a ghastly .271 on-base percentage and .322 slugging percentage in 300 games. Among all the players with at least 800 plate appearances since Quintero’s debut in 2003 his .593 OPS ranks third-worst ahead of only Tony Pena (who has since converted to pitching) and Jeff Mathis.

Castro’s development was one of the few things Astros fans had to look forward to this season, but instead they may not see him again until 2012 and an already bad team just got even worse.

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.