Japan has committed to the WBC

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There was talk that Japan was going to boycott the 2013 World Baseball Classic due to unhappiness over how the merchandising and sponsorship revenue is split up.  That, it seems, has been averted. Maybe:

Paul Archey, Major League Baseball’s senior vice president of international business operations, said in a statement “We fully expect Japan, the winners of the first two World Baseball Classics, will field another championship-caliber team of which its fans will be proud.”

I say maybe because just because the WBC is saying Japan committed doesn’t mean that Japan will honor its commitment (note: there is no word from Japan in this story). And even if they do, the protest seems to come from the Japan Player’s Association. So it’s possible that the good players will not go, even if there is a Japanese team there of some sort.

Japan has won the last two WBCs. If they field a substandard team or opt-out altogether, there’s gonna be a lot of people who will want to apply asterisks to the new champ.

 

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.