Brad Ausmus withdraws from Astros’ managerial race

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Brad Ausmus interviewed for the open Houston managerial position, but he withdrew from consideration for the job on Friday.

In a text message to MLB.com, he attributed the decision to “personal reasons” and said he wishes the Astros “the best of luck.”

The 43-year-old Ausmus spent nine of his 18-big league seasons with Houston, playing for the team in 1997-98 and 2001-08 before finishing up with the Dodgers in 2009-10. He was widely viewed as a future manager during his playing career.

Whether Ausmus’ decision had anything to do with his current gig as Team Israel’s manager in the World Baseball Classic is unclear. Assuming that Israel is able to advance out of the preliminary rounds, Ausmus would be tied up with the team for a portion of March, something that would definitely interfere with any sort of major league job.

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.