Yu Darvish expects to return to Rangers’ rotation Saturday

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Rangers ace Yu Darvish had to be scratched from his scheduled start Tuesday in Minnesota because of lingering stiffness in his neck, but he hasn’t been placed on the disabled list yet and could be ready by his next turn through the Texas starting rotation.

According to Jeff Wilson of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram, the right-hander played catch Wednesday and told reporters through an interpreter afterward that he expects to start this Saturday in Washington, D.C. against the host Nationals. Darvish underwent an MRI on his neck Tuesday after he was scratched and the results were called “unremarkable.”

The 27-year-old owns a 2.35 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and 71 strikeouts in 61 1/3 innings this season.

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.