Will Middlebrooks aggravates right wrist in spring game

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Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks was removed from Wednesday night’s Grapefruit League game against the Orioles because of what is currently being termed “right wrist soreness.”

Middlebrooks appeared to injure the wrist while taking a swing at a high-and-tight fastball in the first inning. He met with trainers near the Red Sox dugout and then spiked his batting helmet in apparent frustration before disappearing into the clubhouse.

Middlebrooks missed the final two months of the 2012 season with a right wrist fracture. And it’s pretty clear that whatever happened tonight at the Orioles’ complex in Sarasota, Florida is related.

The Red Sox will reevaluate him Thursday morning.

Middlebrooks, 24, batted .288/.325/.509 with 15 home runs and 54 RBI over his first 75 major league games last year. Boston’s options to replace him at the hot corner are … umm … Pedro Ciriaco and Brock Holt.

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UPDATE, 9:44 PM: According to Tim Britton of the Providence Journal, Middlebrooks said after the game that he is not in pain and that no X-rays are scheduled because he has strength in his right hand. “It’s not as serious as we thought it was,” the young third baseman told reporters. “It was just a scare.”

UPDATE, 10:13 PM: Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe says Middlebrooks is aiming to take batting practice on Thursday and that the tweak he felt might have been scar tissue getting jarred.

Rob Manfred says Tampa Bay must pick up pace on new stadium

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred wants Tampa Bay to work a little quicker on getting the Rays a new ballpark.

Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg has been working for nearly a decade to get a new stadium for the club and signed a three-year agreement with the City of St. Petersburg early in 2016 to search for a site in the Tampa Bay area. Manfred wants that search to pick up some steam.

“I think it’s fair to say we want the process to take on a better pace moving forward,” Manfred said Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, home of the Rays since their first season in 1998.

The Rays were averaging 15,815 fans per game before Wednesday night’s contest against the Toronto Blue Jays. That is just over half the major league average of 30,470. Tropicana Field and its location have been almost universally blamed as the reason for the poor attendance.

“I’ve been pretty clear that they need a new facility here, a major league quality facility in an A-plus location,” Manfred said. “It is time to move that decision to the front burner here in Tampa.”

The matter of how a stadium would be financed has been tabled until a site is determined, but Sternberg continued to express confidence in the Tampa Bay market.

“I’ve had the opportunity to bail on it many times over the years,” he said. “I won’t say this is a slam dunk, it’s certainly not. But I think we can do something that’ll at least double our attendance. That’s a lot to ask for.”

Manfred said Major League Baseball “doesn’t have a firm timetable” for what steps to take if the Rays fail to get an agreement to build a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area, but but added that “it is a topic of discussion in the industry, the lack of progress.”

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Robinson Cano leaves game with hamstring tightness

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Bad news for the Mariners this evening: Robinson Cano left Seattle’s game against the Atlanta Braves with tightness in his left hamstring.

Cano walked off the field after legging out a double — his second of the game — in the third inning. He pulled up as he approached second base and walked off the field, accompanied by a trainer. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury. The Mariners have a day off Thursday before opening a series at the Yankees on Friday night, so they have some time to evaluate him.

Cano is hitting .277/.377/.460 with 19 homers and 78 RBI on the year.