Allen Craig returns from surgery to hit in minor-league game

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Chris Carpenter’s setback is the biggest story in Cardinals camp, but they did get some good news yesterday as Allen Craig returned from knee surgery to play in a minor-league game.

It was Craig’s first action since Game 7 of the World Series, although he was limited strictly to hitting and didn’t run or play defense.

Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that Craig remains likely to begin the season on the disabled list and may even have to wait a while before being cleared for full-on game participation, but manager Mike Matheny called yesterday “a step forward’ and added that “if he feels good then we move forward … we have to see how his body reacts.”

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.