Marlon Byrd was caught stealing at a rather unfortunate time

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The Cubs trailed the Brewers by one run in the ninth inning yesterday and they got their leadoff man — Marlon Byrd — on base.  And then, with a powerful hitter who had already stroked three doubles on the day at the plate, Byrd was … caught stealing.

Strange play to say the least. Who steals in that situation? So, naturally, the Chicago sporting press asked Byrd about it in the clubhouse after the game:

“Done,” he said. “Beat it. I respect you guys all the time, and we lose a close game like that and that’s the question you ask? Forget it. Beat it.”

What did he expect to be asked?  Allmans vs. Skynyrd?

To be fair to Byrd, he was in a tough spot. Before he told everyone to beat it he reluctantly and obliquely confirmed that he was given the steal sign by third base coach Ivan DeJesus. For his part, manager Mike Quade said that he didn’t put the steal sign on — or at least didn’t think he did — which could be a way of also suggesting that it was DeJesus who gave the sign. It’s entirely possible that DeJesus screwed up and neither his boss nor the player wanted to throw him under the bus. Whatever the case, Byrd is a standup guy who probably would have said so if he was out there freelancing.

All of which, by the way, makes me wonder how this plays out if Mark Cuban’s vision of the future comes to pass and there aren’t any reporters in the clubhouse asking uncomfortable questions. I assume nothing is said by team-controlled media, in which case all of us on the outside are left to assume that either Quade made a boneheaded move or Byrd was trying to spark something, however misguided it was. Then later, Cuban or someone in his position posts something about how everyone’s out to get his guys.

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.