Nelson Cruz expected to be in Orioles’ lineup Tuesday

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The Orioles were given quite the scare yesterday when slugger Nelson Cruz was hit on the left hand with a pitch, but the early word is that he’s on track to be in the starting lineup tomorrow against the Rangers.

Fortunately no fracture was found in Cruz’s hand and he’s only dealing with a contusion. The swelling is down and he’s able to grip a bat, so Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com writes that the Orioles are “encouraged” that he’ll be able to play tomorrow. It’s no sure thing, as the final test will be batting practice tomorrow, but the good news is that it’s a day-to-day situation.

Signed to a one-year, $8 million deal over the winter, Cruz has been a tremendous bargain for the Orioles and one of the most productive hitters in the game. The 33-year-old is batting .314/.384/.672 in 54 games and leads the majors with 20 home runs and 52 RBI. He was named the AL Player of the Week earlier today.

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.