Phillies hire Wally Joyner as assistant hitting coach

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As part of their coaching shakeup last month the Phillies fired hitting coach Greg Gross and replaced him with Steve Henderson, and today they announced that Henderson will also have an assistant hitting coach in Wally Joyner.

Joyner spent 16 seasons in the majors as a lefty-hitting first baseman, batting .289 with more walks than strikeouts and 204 homers among 2,060 total hits. He briefly served as the Padres’ hitting coach a few years ago.

MLB teams are limited in the number of coaches they can have on staff, or at least in uniform on a daily basis, but the Phillies are able to add Joyner as an assistant hitting coach because they’re apparently going without a bench coach.

Pitching coach Rich Dubee has long been manager Charlie Manuel’s right-hand man anyway and new third base coach Ryne Sandberg will presumably fill some of the usual bench coach role as well.

And now a lineup that ranked eighth and seventh among NL teams in scoring during the past two seasons will have a pair of coaches devoted to putting more runs on the board.

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.