Justin Morneau took batting practice, “had a really good day”

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Justin Morneau’s comeback from neck surgery was delayed earlier this week when his scheduled workouts were rained out on back-to-back days, but the former MVP took batting practice yesterday at Target Field and reported no problems.

“He had a really good day on the field with BP and ground balls and the whole package,” manager Ron Gardenhire told Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com. “Everything went good.”

Assuming his next couple rounds of batting practice go well (or good, whatever) Morneau could be cleared to participate in simulated games or perhaps even begin a minor-league rehab assignment.

He hasn’t played since June 29 and before that struggled mightily while coming back from the concussion that ended his season in early July last year, hitting just .225 with four homers and a .619 OPS in 55 games.

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.