Rangers demote struggling Roy Oswalt to the bullpen

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UPDATE: No matter the reason(s) for Oswalt’s struggles, the Rangers have decided to demote him to the bullpen following their trade for Ryan Dempster. Last time Oswalt made more than one relief appearance in a season? As a 23-year-old rookie in 2001.

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Roy Oswalt got lit up for three homers and a total of eight runs by the Angels last night, and afterward the 34-year-old right-hander told Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas that his long layoff between starts was to blame.

Oswalt skipped his last turn in the rotation because of back soreness, so he went 12 days between starts, and his mechanics were out of whack:

I need to get a more consistent arm angle. Sometimes I’m down, sometimes I’m too far up. I can’t find that spot that felt great. Not getting to throw for 11 or 12 days, sometimes that happens.

On one hand prior to last night Oswalt had put together back-to-back solid starts. On the other hand he now has a 6.49 ERA and .333 opponents’ batting average in six starts overall, so if his mechanics are to blame for getting knocked around it isn’t something new.

And his struggles are among the reasons why the Rangers are linked to seemingly every veteran starter potentially on the trading block.

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.