A.J. Burnett won’t be breaking his face in any bunting competitions this spring

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Last year around this time A.J. Burnett was taking part in the Pirates’ bunting competition when he fouled a ball off his face and suffered an orbital fracture that required surgery and two months of recovery time.

Burnett missed the first three weeks of the regular season and apparently learned his lesson. When asked today what his plans were for this year’s bunting competition, Burnett said: “No. I’m out. I’ll bunt only if coach throws the ball. No machine pitch.”

Because so many people had gotten used to mocking Burnett for his performance with the Yankees the bunting injury last spring led to all sorts of ridicule, but once healthy he had a very good season for the Pirates with a 3.51 ERA and 180 strikeouts in 202 innings.

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.