Marlins ace Josh Johnson uncertain to pitch again this season

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Josh Johnson has already missed more than two months with shoulder inflammation and Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reports that he’s no sure thing to pitch again before 2012.

According to Frisaro the Marlins are hoping that Johnson can begin a throwing program later this week and if that happens he’ll be on track to return at some point in September, even if it means just a couple relief appearances “to give him some peace of mind going into the offseason.”

However, he hasn’t thrown at all since June and if the Marlins ultimately decide Johnson’s recovery hasn’t progressed enough to resume throwing then the 27-year-old right-hander will probably be shut down for the remainder of the season.

In other words, there’s a pretty good chance one of the best pitchers in baseball will end up missing five months with shoulder inflammation that the Marlins initially expected him to return from in mere weeks. Johnson has a history of arm problems and I’m all for playing it safe with young pitchers, but it sure seems like there’s something going on here beyond what’s publicly known.

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.