Astros hire Brent Strom as pitching coach

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Last week Houston moved pitching coach Doug Brocal into a different role in the organization and now Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports that the Astros have hired Brent Strom as their new pitching coach.

Strom was previously the Royals’ pitching coach in 2000 and 2001, but most recently he’s been a minor league pitching instructor for the Cardinals … for whom Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow previously worked. Strom is 64 years old, whereas Brocail is 46.

And here’s an interesting tidbit: Strom was the second pitcher to ever undergo ulnar collateral elbow ligament replacement surgery. Tommy John, of course, was the first.

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.