Josh Thole taught his dog sign language

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I guess a catcher would be good at signs.

Thole, considered a cornerstone to the Amazin’s rebuilding, has taught a deaf pooch named Picca – owned by he and his wife, Kathryn – to understand sign language. The 24-year-old backstop said his Maltese-poodle mix caught on pretty fast.

My cat doesn’t come when you call him. Doesn’t listen to anyone or anything. I’m sure the explanation is that he’s deaf. Because certainly a cat would want to obey you, right?

Off to call Thole for some advice …

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.