The Orioles are interested in Francisco Cordero

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When the Reds signed Ryan Madson to a one-year, $8.5 million deal with a club option last week, it left Francisco Cordero without a logical landing spot to close ballgames in 2012. However, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun is hearing that the Orioles have expressed interest in the veteran right-hander.

Cordero, who turns 37 in May, posted a 2.45 ERA and 37 saves last season in Cincinnati, but also averaged just 5.4 K/9 and saw his fastball velocity dip to a career-low 93 mph. While he induced ground balls 50 percent of the time and had his lowest walk rate since 2007, the American League East isn’t exactly the best environment for his decline phase.

Recent reports have suggested that Jim Johnson is the front-runner to close games for the Orioles this season, but the possible addition of Cordero could perhaps put him back in the mix for a rotation spot. Former closer Kevin Gregg is still under contract for $5.8 million this season, but Connolly hears that the O’s would be willing to eat some of his salary in a potential trade. Gregg is coming off a season where he posted a 4.37 ERA and an ugly 53/40 K/BB ratio over 59 2/3 innings, so it’s difficult to envision many teams lining up for his services, even at a discounted rate.

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.