Travis Hafner could miss rest of season with bulging disk in back

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Travis Hafner was placed on the 15-day disabled list yesterday with what was described as lower back inflammation, but there’s a chance the injury could cost him the rest of the season.

According to Dennis Manoloff of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, Indians head trainer Lonnie Soloff said this afternoon that Hafner is dealing with a bulging disk in his back. He is currently taking anti-inflammatory medication and was given an epidural injection today.

Hafner believes he’ll need a few weeks of treatment before his status for the rest of the season is decided, but he may have already taken his last at-bat as a member of the Indians. “Pronk” is in the final year of a four-year, $47 million contract which includes a $13 million option for 2013 or a $2.75 million buyout. Injuries have limited the 35-year-old to just 423 games since the start of the 2008 season, so he’ll almost certainly have to look for a new deal in free agency.

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.