Giants insist Matt Cain is healthy, elbow fragments and all

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Matt Cain failed to make it out of the first inning Wednesday, allowing five of the seven batters he faced to reach base before being yanked after throwing 36 pitches. It was Cain’s second straight awful start, following up last week’s outing in which he allowed eight runs in 2.1 innings.

Despite those struggles manager Bruce Bochy insisted yesterday that Cain is healthy, telling Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com that “he’s fine” and the elbow fragments that have bothered him in the past “hasn’t affected him as far as I know.”

Baggarly, however, notes some red flags that suggest something isn’t right with Cain. For one thing Bochy had a reliever warming up just 20 pitches into Cain’s start Wednesday, suggesting the Giants knew something was up. Beyond that Cain’s fastball velocity was down 2-3 miles per hour.

Cain will get extra time off thanks to the All-Star break, but it’ll be telling when the Giants schedule his first start of the second half. Injured or healthy, Cain has allowed the most earned runs in the NL and has a 5.06 ERA after posting an ERA under 3.25 in four straight seasons.

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.