Cardinals lose David Freese to broken hand

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David Freese, who was batting a robust .356 in 87 at-bats this season, suffered a broken left hand when he was hit by a Scott Linebrink pitch in Sunday’s loss to the Braves and is expected to be placed on the disabled list.

The Cardinals didn’t provide a timetable for Freese’s return, but an absence of at least 4-6 weeks should be anticipated.

The injury leaves St. Louis down two infield starters with second baseman Skip Schumaker nursing a biceps strain.  Tyler Greene figures to be a full-timer at second base now.  Nick Punto, who also left today’s game with an injury (tightness in his left hamstring) and Daniel Descalso will share time at third base.

It’s been a very tough year for NL third basemen.  The Cardinals are the third team in two days to lose their starting third baseman for all of May, as the Nationals and Giants announced injuries for Ryan Zimmerman (torn abdominal muscle) and Pablo Sandoval (broken hamate bone) on Saturday.  Zimmerman, who was already on the DL, is expected to miss an additional six weeks.   The Dodgers (Casey Blake) and Reds (Scott Rolen) also have third basemen on the DL.

With very little available on the trade market, the Cardinals will probably have to get by with their current group.  They could give Allen Craig some time at the hot corner once he’s back from a strained groin in a couple of weeks.

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.