Reds shift Jay Bruce to first base with Joey Votto out

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Jay Bruce has been exclusively an outfielder in the majors and minors, playing there for each of his 1,257 professional games, but with first baseman Joey Votto likely headed to the disabled list Reds manager Bryan Price has Bruce starting at first base tonight against the Cubs.

Previously when Votto was sidelined the Reds used backup catcher Brayan Pena as their primary first baseman, but he’s currently on the paternity list. Once he returns it’ll be interesting to see if Pryce may also have realized how much that hurt the lineup considering Pena’s paltry offensive numbers.

For tonight at least the Reds are using Skip Schumaker in right field even though he actually has some past experience at first base. Schumaker isn’t much of a hitter either, but his lifetime .711 OPS is still 50 points higher than Pena’s career mark.

However, Bruce is considered an excellent defensive right fielder, so it’s not so clear if moving him to first base is worth whatever tradeoff comes with swapping Schumaker for Pena offensively.

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.