Johnny Cueto diagnosed with mild oblique strain, remains on Reds’ roster for now

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Johnny Cueto left his Game 1 start in the first inning with what was initially said to be back spasms, but the Reds have diagnosed him with a mild right oblique strain.

Not only do they remain undecided about removing Cueto from the playoff roster–which would make him ineligible to return before the World Series–the Reds still haven’t ruled out having him start Game 4 on Wednesday.

That seems awfully unlikely at the very least, but clearly the Reds want to avoid losing Cueto for a potential NLCS matchup if at all possible. And if they win tonight there won’t be a Game 4 and Cueto will have more time to rest.

“But if it’s unavoidable, then that’s something different,” manager Dusty Baker said, via Mark Sheldon of MLB.com “We’re weighing our options.” Baker also confirmed that if the Reds do remove Cueto from the NLDS roster Mike Leake would replace him.

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.