Rays to exercise $1.5 million option on Jose Molina

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From Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times comes word that the Rays are planning to exercise catcher Jose Molina’s $1.8 million club option for the 2013 season. It was that or pay a $300,000 buyout.

Molina batted .223/.286/.355 with eight home runs and 32 RBI in 102 games this season for the Rays while playing his usual brand of steady defense. He had a .281/.342/.415 slash line in 2011 with Toronto.

The 37-year-old brother of Bengie and Yadier seems likely to serve as a backup for Tampa Bay again in 2013, but he could take on a more involved role if the Rays can’t find themselves a front-line catcher on the open market this winter. There won’t be many available.

Molina has a .618 career OPS against righties and a .662 OPS against lefties, so a platoon is a possibility.

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.