Dontrelle Willis fails to make Reds’ bullpen, heads to Triple-A

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Dontrelle Willis’ latest comeback attempt has hit a snag, as he failed to secure a spot in the Reds’ bullpen and has been reassigned to Triple-A.

Willis had to agree to the Triple-A assignment, so clearly he thinks the Reds still give him the best opportunity to get back to the majors at some point.

Dusty Baker told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer that Willis “was real close to making it 10 days, 10 weeks ago” but “kind of regressed a little bit” late in camp.

Baker also indicated that he’ll be used as a starter in the minors, although that may be mostly due to the Reds’ recent rash of injuries sapping their once-strong rotation depth. Willis is still just 29 years old, but hasn’t been healthy and effective as a starter or a reliever since 2006.

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.