Carl Crawford takes batting practice against teammates, calls it “a step in the right direction”

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From Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times:

Carl Crawford faced relievers Kenley Jansen and J.P. Howell on Tuesday, marking the first time he took live batting practice against major league pitchers since he was shut down two weeks ago.

“A step in the right direction,” said Crawford, who resumed working out last week.

Crawford began experiencing forearm tightness in late February that is thought to be related to the Tommy John reconstructive elbow procedure that he had last August. He told reporters after Tuesday’s live batting practice session that his timing with the bat “wasn’t as far off as I would expect it to be.”

Crawford is unlikely to be ready for the start of the regular season, but a mid-April Dodgers debut is possible if he avoids further setbacks. The 31-year-old outfielder was traded from Boston to Los Angeles last summer in the blockbuster deal that also saw Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto move west. Crawford inked a seven-year, $142 million free agent contract with the Red Sox in December 2010.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with left ankle 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.