Brandon Beachy wins the Braves’ fifth starter’s job

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It wasn’t much talked about this spring, but one of the more interesting  job competitions was for the Braves’ fifth starter’s job. The candidates: lefty Mike Minor and right hander Brandon Beachy.  Frank Wren announced today that Beachy is the victor, with Minor being sent down to, er, the minors.

This is one of those situations in which the better overall pitcher probably lost, but did so for understandable reasons.  Minor has way more upside than than Beachy — he was a first round pick whereas Beachy was an amateur free agent — but the Braves are in win-now mode and Beachy is a more finished product. If Atlanta wasn’t poised to compete, there would be a stronger temptation to see if Minor could swim in the big rapids.

Not that Beachy is any slouch. He was called up late last year and and made three good starts as the Braves clung to the wild card. Before that he seriously impressed in 35 appearances (13 of which were starts) in AAA and AA. Minor was himself impressive across AAA and AA, though he was more shaky during his nine appearances with the big club.

It wouldn’t be shocking to see both of these guys in the Braves’ rotation over the course of the season, and they’ll probably both have permanent homes there in 2012 and beyond. But for now Atlanta has gone with Beachy. And I tend to think it’s the right move.

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.