Jason Heyward cleared to begin rehab assignment

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Jason Heyward has been pretty pessimistic about his recovery from an appendectomy, but the Braves right fielder has been cleared to begin a minor-league rehab assignment.

Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that Heyward is scheduled to join the Triple-A team Thursday and play there through the weekend, at which point it’s possible he could be ready to come off the disabled list next week.

Heyward underwent an emergency appendectomy on April 22 and in his absence the Braves have turned to Jordan Schafer, Reed Johnson, and now Evan Gattis in the outfield.

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.