John Farrell may use Mike Napoli as a late-game defensive replacement at first base

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Now playing under National League rules, Red Sox manager John Farrell has opted to start David Ortiz at first base over Mike Napoli, at least in Game 3 of the World Series. While Napoli has hit well for the Red Sox throughout the post-season, Ortiz has out-done him, homering in the first two games against the Cardinals, to boot. Ortiz certainly lacks the defensive skill set to be reliable at first base, but the hope is that he’ll outhit his deficiencies with the glove.

Farrell did express consternation with the correct way to utilize Napoli off the bench:

Though the thought of Napoli as a “defensive” replacement seems odd, advanced defensive statistics graded him well:

Additionally, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, Napoli took grounders at third base, creating speculation that Farrell is getting creative with ways to get both bats in the lineup.

And people think the DH is great. The endless lineup strategy is exhilarating!

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.