Felix Hernandez tests oblique strain by throwing off flat ground

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Felix Hernandez hasn’t pitched since September 2 due to a minor oblique strain on his left side, but he’s hoping to rejoin the Mariners’ rotation as soon as next week.

According to Greg Johns of MLB.com, Hernandez didn’t have any problems throwing off flat ground prior to yesterday’s game against the Cardinals. He’s scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Monday, potentially clearing the way for him to start Wednesday against the Tigers.

Hernandez is 12-9 with a 3.01 ERA and 200/41 K/BB ratio in 194 1/3 innings over 29 starts this season. He was being mentioned as a potential threat for American League Cy Young Award honors for a while, but a 6.42 ERA over his last six starts has put a damper on things.

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.