Braves pick up option on Eric Hinske; decline option on Nate McLouth

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The Atlanta Braves just announced that they have picked up the club option on Eric Hinske and declined the option on Nate McLouth.

This is not surprising. McLouth’s 2012 option price was $10.65 million and, in case you’ve been living under a rock, you know that McLouth is not a $10 million player. Heck, he may not be a $10 player right now. He had a 2011 line of .228/.344/.333 in 81 games. And that was an improvement over 2010. If the Braves are going to pay real money to try and retain a center fielder, it will be money spent on Michael Bourn, not McLouth.

As for Hinske, his option was for $1.5 million.  He still represents some left handed pop off the bench and, given that the Braves never seem to sign a decent complement of backup outfielders or corner guys, he’s useful enough in that role.

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.