A’s release veteran reliever Brian Fuentes

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Not surprisingly the A’s couldn’t find a taker for Brian Fuentes and his contract after designating him for assignment last week, so today they released the veteran reliever.

Fuentes was briefly Oakland’s closer this season, stepping into the ninth-inning role when Grant Balfour struggled, but lost that job to rookie Ryan Cook.

He was owed about $2.5 million for the second half and another $250,000 to buy out his 2013 option, so the A’s will eat that money and Fuentes is free to sign elsewhere for a prorated share of the minimum salary (or perhaps even a minor-league deal).

At age 36 he’s no longer late-inning material, but Fuentes could still help some teams as a secondary setup man or middle reliever.

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.