Cody Asche leaves spring training game with a hand injury

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Phillies third baseman Cody Asche was hit in the right hand with a fastball from Pirates pitcher Yao-Hsun Yang in the bottom of the fifth inning this afternoon. Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer described the uncomfortable sound as “that of a ball hitting helmet”. Asche was taken out of the game under his own power and replaced by prospect Maikel Franco. He will undergo evaluations and we should hear the results tomorrow, if not later today.

[Update: Preliminary results on Asche’s ultrasound came up negative, per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki.]

Although Franco is a third baseman and the Phillies’ best prospect according to most, the Phillies can’t be happy with what they saw. Franco is still rough around the edges and would benefit from starting the season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Asche is no superstar, but is a dependable stopgap who provided decent production at the hot corner last season.

Video: Albert Almora, Jr. saved by the ivy

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The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.

After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.

Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.

Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.