Ichiro would prefer to stay with the Yankees

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Ichiro is drawing interest in free agency following a resurgent final two months of the season, but his agent, Tony Attanasio, told George A. King III of the New York Post that the veteran outfielder would like to stay with the Yankees. In fact, he’s willing to wait out contract talks with Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera if need be.

“They are going after pitching first which is what the Yankees normally do,’’ Tony Attanasio, Ichiro’s well-respected agent, said yesterday. “There has been a lot of interest [from teams], but he enjoyed playing for the Yankees so much it’s hard for him to say no to the Yankees. His preference is to stay there instead of going someplace else, but we will wait and see.’’

Nick Swisher is also a free agent, so the Yankees have a void in right field at the moment, but hard to see them committing to Ichiro and Brett Gardner as full-time players next season. While it would give them one of the best defensive outfields in the majors, they will likely want some more punch in their lineup. With that in mind, King hears that the Yankees have talked with Scott Hairston’s agent and aren’t against bringing back Raul Ibanez.

Ichiro, 39, batted .322 with five home runs and a .794 OPS in 67 games after coming over from the Mariners in July. Still, he would need to take a steep pay cut from the $17 million he made this past season in order to remain with the Bombers.

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.