Jorge De La Rosa likely to make season debut Thursday

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Jorge De La Rosa’s comeback from Tommy John elbow surgery has dragged on far longer than expected, but there may finally be a light at the end of the tunnel.

De La Rosa started a Single-A playoff game yesterday, throwing five innings of three-run ball, and Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports that he’s now “on the brink of pitching in the big leagues.”

He’ll join the Rockies this week and according to Renck could start as soon as Thursday against the Giants, which would be his first game action versus major-league hitters since May 24, 2011.

De La Rosa has a $11 million player option for 2013 that he’ll obviously exercise, as that’s probably about $8 million more than he’d get on the open market as a free agent right now.

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.