Mariano Rivera to start throwing next week, says knee is at about “95 percent”

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Encouraging news to pass along regarding Mariano Rivera, who is currently working his way back from surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee.

According to Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York, Rivera said today that he plans to start his offseason throwing program next week. That’s earlier than normal for him, but he’s doing things a little differently coming off major surgery. The 43-year-old also estimated that his knee is at around “95 percent” recovered.

“It needs more strengthening,” Rivera said. “The five percent will come quick.”

As of now, there’s every indication that Rivera will be ready for spring training and a potential save chance on Opening Day. Whether you are a Yankees fan or not, that’s a cool thing to think about on this quiet January afternoon.

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.