Jim Leyland on Game 4 closer choice: “We’ll play it by ear”

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Jim Leyland planned to rest Phil Coke last night, which may have opened the door for Jose Valverde to close out a series-ending win for the Tigers, but instead the game was rained out and now Coke is available for today’s Game 4.

However, when asked who he’ll turn to if the Tigers have a ninth-inning lead to protect Leyland said only that “everyone is available today” and “we’ll play it by ear.”

That could mean a lot of things, including a matchup-based closer-by-committee situation, but one thing it seemingly doesn’t mean is that Jose Valverde has regained the job he held for the past three seasons while converting 110 saves.

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.