Longtime closer Francisco Cordero “more than happy” to be setup man for Blue Jays

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Francisco Cordero saved 37 games with a 2.45 ERA for the Reds last season, but then found himself in perhaps the biggest buyer’s market for veteran relievers in the history of free agency this offseason and ended up settling for a one-year, $4.5 million deal with the Blue Jays.

Oh, and he’ll be a setup man in Toronto too. And the 37-year-old three-time All-Star with 327 career saves said yesterday that he’s just fine with the new role:

They explained to me what my role is going to be, I agreed to it, and I’ll be more than happy to do it. I will be the setup guy, I’ve been that before. I have to treat the eighth inning like the ninth and get us to Santos.

“Santos” is Sergio Santos, who was acquired from the White Sox and handed closing duties months before Cordero fell into the Blue Jays’ lap. Santos has fewer career saves than Cordero had in 2011 alone, but he’ll enter the season with ninth-inning duties. Of course, that doesn’t mean Cordero won’t be looming in the background to take over the gig should Santos falter.

As for the reliever logjam that led to Cordero settling for a modest one-year deal and no closing job, he explained:

I thought the market would be a little better. My agent spoke with a lot of teams, like Cincinnati and some others. I’ll pitch for one year and who knows? And who knows what will take place during the course of the season?

It’s also worth noting that several reports had Cordero turning down a two-year, $14 million offer to return to the Reds early on this offseason, in which case he had an opportunity to escape the buyer’s market with a nice multi-year commitment and overplayed his hand.

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.