Red Sox have interest in A’s right-hander Rich Harden

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The Red Sox entered Sunday’s action with the best record in the American League (60-37), good enough for first place in the always-tough AL East. They boast baseball’s most dangerous batting order, and have been getting strong pitching in spurts.

But starting pitching depth has been a weakness for most of the season. And the Red Sox are aiming to correct that at this year’s trade deadline.

According to Peter Gammons, who now works for MLB.com and the MLB Network, the Boston front office has inquired recently about the availability of Oakland right-hander Rich Harden.

Harden, 29, has a 23/8 K/BB ratio since returning from the disabled list in early July and held the Yankees to two earned runs over 5 1/3 innings Saturday in a 4-3 A’s victory. Injuries have held him back since his breakout early tenure with the Athletics, but the native of Canada still owns a cool 3.66 career big-league ERA.

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.