Adam Wainwright’s rotation replacement likely Kyle McClellan

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The competition to replace Adam Wainwright in the Cardinals’ rotation is still officially humming along, but Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch writes that Kyle McClellan has all but locked up the job after spending the past three seasons in the bullpen.

Tony La Russa was also full of praise for McClellan, but stopped well short of handing him the gig and added that “we don’t have to decide yet.”

McClellan has allowed just one run in 12 innings this spring and has a 3.23 ERA in 218 career innings, albeit all as a reliever. In fact, he hasn’t started a regular season game in the majors or minors since way back in 2007 at Single-A.

Replacing him in the bullpen will be tough, but Goold suggests that’s unlikely to play a big factor in whether or not McClellan gets the rotation spot because the Cardinals are (smartly) focusing on their starters first and then worrying about relievers.

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.