Andre Ethier not expected to play center field at start of NLCS

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UPDATE: While the Dodgers were hopeful that Andre Ethier would be able to start in center field when the NLCS begins, CBS Sports’ Danny Knobler reports that he’s not expected to be ready by then. However, the good news is that his ankle has improved enough where he likely won’t need a pinch-runner if he gets on base.

10:47 a.m. ET: Similar to the Cardinals waiting on Allen Craig’s health status, the Dodgers are hoping to have Andre Ethier fully available for the NLCS.

Ethier hasn’t been in the starting lineup since September 13, when he aggravated a leg injury, and went 0-for-3 as a pinch-hitter in the NLDS. However, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com Ethier “was running down fly balls in the gap Wednesday as the Dodgers worked out at Dodger Stadium” and might start in center field versus the Cardinals.

Even when fully healthy Ethier is very stretched defensively in center field, so it’s hard to imagine him covering much ground coming off a lengthy absence for a leg injury, but then again he simply needs to be better than Skip Schumaker to provide an upgrade for the Dodgers.

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.