Report: Rangers making progress on deal with free agent right-hander Jerome Williams

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Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the Rangers are “making progress” on a deal with free agent right-hander Jerome Williams. Talks have “intensified” since left-hander Derek Holland suffered a left knee injury which will likely keep him sidelined until midseason.

Williams was non-tendered by the Angels in December after posting a 4.57 ERA and 107/55 K/BB ratio over 169 1/3 innings over 25 starts and 12 relief appearances last season. The 32-year-old had a 4.58 ERA in 15 starts and 17 relief appearances in 2012.

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said yesterday the Holland injury won’t put any pressure on the club to make a move for a “big ticket” starting pitcher, but they are obviously looking for some insurance. As of now, Alexi Ogando, Colby Lewis, Robbie Ross, Nick Tepesch, and Tanner Scheppers are all in the mix for the final two spots in the rotation.

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.