Brandon Belt will play winter ball in the Dominican Republic

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Brandon Belt will play winter ball in the Dominican Republic despite initially not being very excited about the possibility, according to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News.

Belt was apparently convinced it would be a good thing following a conversation with manager Bruce Bochy, saying: “After talking with him, I really think it’s going to make me a better player.”

It’ll also give Belt a chance for some regular playing time after the Giants have repeatedly refused to make the 23-year-old top prospect an everyday player.

He’s hit just .217 with a .714 OPS in 29 games since returning to the majors in mid-July and with Aubrey Huff under contract for $10 million next season (and $10 million or a $2 million buyout for 2013) Belt may want to work on his outfield defense as much as his hitting.

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.