Astros tab Tony DeFrancesco as interim manager

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From Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle comes word that the Astros have promoted Tony DeFrancesco from his post as manager of the Triple-A Oklahoma City RedHawks to the position of interim manager at the major league level.

DeFrancesco, who’s never managed in the bigs but served as the A’s third base coach in 2008, is filling the spot left vacant by Brad Mills’ firing. He has not been guaranteed anything beyond the 2012 season but told reporters Sunday morning that he wants to be “the guy who changes the environment out there.”

The Astros have also named Dan Radison as interim first base coach and Ty Van Burkleo as interim hitting coach after firing first base coach Bobby Meachem and hitting coach Mike Barnett alongside Mills late Saturday night. Houston enters play Sunday against the Diamondbacks with an MLB-worst 39-82 record.

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.