Here’s a potential boost for the Pirates, who are currently locked into a tie with the Cardinals at the very top of the National League Central standings.
Starling Marte is a member of Pittsburgh’s starting lineup — batting leadoff and playing left field — on Tuesday evening against the Padres for the first time since suffering a severe hand contusion in an August 18 game versus Arizona. Marte was activated from the disabled list on September 7 but could only serve as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement initially due to lingering discomfort in his badly-bruised hand.
Marte was well on his way to an outstanding season for the Bucs before the injury and will carry a cool .282/.343/.443 batting line, 11 home runs, 10 triples, 36 stolen bases and 79 runs scored into his return to full-time action on Tuesday night.
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.