A’s interested in former Red Sox reliever Hideki Okajima

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Hideki Okajima went back to Japan last season after spending five years with the Red Sox, but the 37-year-old reliever said recently that he’s looking to return to MLB and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the A’s are interested.

Okajima spent most of his final Red Sox season at Triple-A and would almost surely have to settle for a minor-league contract at this point, but the left-hander was ridiculously good in Japan last year with a 0.94 ERA in 48 innings for the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks.

His overall ERA with the Red Sox was 3.11 in 246 innings and opponents hit just .238 off Okajima. Last offseason he signed a minor-league deal with the Yankees, but it was voided because of an undisclosed physical issue and led to his returning to Japan.

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.