World Baseball Classic games begin this weekend, yet Joey Votto still hasn’t made a decision about whether he’ll play for Team Canada.
Votto’s status for the tournament is in question because of the pair of knee surgeries he had last season, but he’s healthy enough to have played in five spring training games for the Reds already.
Votto explained the delayed decision to Barry Bloom of MLB.com:
I don’t think it would be fair to anybody to make a commitment like that and then back out right beforehand. I just want to make sure I’m healthy.
Which is fine, except if his health is truly still in question just days before the start of the tournament it would seem like a no-brainer to skip the WBC. And the Reds would probably prefer that too.
Team Canada workouts begin Monday and they have an exhibition game Wednesday … against the Reds. However, even if Votto decides to play for Canada he’s unlikely to see any WBC action until the games actually count.
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.