Josh Beckett cleared to begin throwing program

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Two months ago Josh Beckett underwent season-ending surgery to remove a rib that was putting pressure on a nerve and causing numbness in his hand. And now he’s ready to start throwing again.

Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that Beckett is scheduled to begin a throwing program Wednesday and Beckett is very pleased with how his recovery has gone so far, saying: “I don’t think anyone was expecting for me to be where I’m at right now.”

Beckett told Hernandez that he’s hoping to do enough throwing to head into the offseason without any limitations, potentially setting him up to be ready for a full spring training. He’s under contract for $15.75 million next season in the final year of a four-year, $68 million contract, but at this point the Dodgers would probably view any contribution they get from Beckett as a bonus.

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.