Marlins expected to re-sign Austin Kearns to minors deal

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Last season Austin Kearns turned a minor-league contract with the Marlins into a part-time bench role and Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports that the 33-year-old outfielder is expected to re-sign on another minor-league deal.

Kearns appeared in 87 games and logged 175 plate appearances, hitting .245 with a .733 OPS. That doesn’t sound like particularly good production, but considering the Marlins’ pitcher-friendly ballpark it was actually right around league-average and included a strong .366 on-base percentage that was Kearns’ highest since he got on base at a .407 clip as a 22-year-old rookie in 2002.

With the Marlins expected to start Juan Pierre, Justin Ruggiano, and Giancarlo Stanton in the outfield Kearns figures to see most of his playing time subbing for Pierre versus left-handed pitching.

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.