Nationals place Bryce Harper on disabled list with left thumb sprain, possible ligament damage

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As first relayed by beat reporter James Wagner at the Washington Post, the Nationals have officially placed outfielder Bryce Harper on the 15-day disabled list because of a sprained left thumb. Steven Souza Jr. was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse in a corresponding 25-man roster move Sunday to provide outfield depth in Harper’s absence.

Harper suffered the thumb sprain Friday night against the Padres when he dove head-first into third base after a bases-loaded triple in the bottom of the third inning. He underwent an MRI on Saturday and will be examined by a specialist this week. The Nats believe he may have some ligament damage. “Doesn’t look good,” a source told the Post.

Harper, 21, was batting .289/.352/.422 with one home run and nine RBI in 22 games this season.

It’s maybe worth noting that he got benched a week ago for a lack of hustle.

Funny, then, that he screwed up his left thumb on a hustle play.

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.