Alex Cobb cleared to begin rehab assignment

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Rays right-hander Alex Cobb got through a simulated game today well enough that the Rays have cleared to him to begin a minor-league rehab assignment Saturday.

Josh Vitale of the Charlotte Sun reports that Cobb will make a rehab start at either high Single-A or Triple-A. In today’s simulated game Cobb tossed four shutout innings, striking out eight, and Vitale says he was clocked at 90-91 miles per hour with his fastball.

Cobb has been on the disabled list since April 13 with a strained oblique muscle. He was off to a great start before the injury, posting a 1.89 ERA and 14/5 K/BB ratio in 19 innings to build on his breakout 2013 campaign that saw his thrive late in the season after returning from a line drive to the head.

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.