Royals move Luke Hochevar to the bullpen

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Kansas City tendering Luke Hochevar a contract and then paying him $4.56 million to avoid arbitration was one of the biggest head-scratchers of the offseason because … well, he’s never been any good.

And now they’re moving him to the bullpen, manager Ned Yost announced today.

Hochevar was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2006 draft, but he has a 5.39 ERA in 771 innings through age 28 and was awful last season while going 8-16 with a 5.73 ERA in 32 starts.

Not giving him another 32 starts is a good decision and there’s a chance Hochevar’s raw stuff will improve when he’s only asked to throw an inning at a time, but $4.56 million for a reliever with a 5.39 career ERA who’s never pitched out of the bullpen before is all kinds of silly.

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.