Mike Aviles denies “very ugly scene” with Bobby Valentine

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Bill Madden of the New York Daily News wrote a column about Bobby Valentine in which he reports that the Red Sox manager “got all over shortstop Mike Aviles in what sources described as ‘a very ugly scene’ during infield drills.”

That was during spring training and Madden claims that the incident led to a “near player revolt” in which “a group of Red Sox players confronted him with outrage” and “Valentine had to apologize to Aviles.”

Rob Bradford of WEEI.com contacted Aviles directly to ask for his side of the story and he replied: “I don’t know where that came from. I don’t remember any incident like that. There was nothing that comes to mind that would be anything like that other than just normal player/coach interaction.”

Not exactly a firm, no-doubt-about-it denial, or maybe I’m just being too cynical. Either way, even Maddon writes that “since then Valentine has outwardly praised Aviles” and of course installing him as the leadoff hitter despite a .319 career on-base percentage suggests the stay in the doghouse was short-lived if it existed at all.

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.