Jay Bell left his position as Pirates hitting coach last week to become the Reds’ bench coach and Pittsburgh has replaced him by promoting assistant hitting coach Jeff Branson into the main gig.
Pittsburgh ranked ninth among NL teams in offense this season, which sounds not at all impressive–and it isn’t, really–but the last time the Pirates ranked higher than ninth in runs was 2003.
Seriously. Reggie Sanders led that team in RBIs. And it was one season after Branson retired as a player.
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.