Reds interested in Marlon Byrd and Antonio Bastardo

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Cincinnati is going to be without second baseman Brandon Phillips (thumb) and first baseman Joey Votto (quad) for another month at least, so to stay in contention in a crowded National League Central race upgrades will probably have to be made at the July 31 deadline. And the hunt has already begun.

Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that the Reds have expressed interest in acquiring outfielder Marlon Byrd and left-handed reliever Antonio Bastardo from the Phillies, who are expected to be one of the most active sellers later this month.

Byrd, 36, is batting .264/.317/.476 with 18 home runs and 54 RBI in 96 games this season for Philadelphia. He signed a two-year, $16 million contract over the winter that includes an $8 million vesting option for 2016.

Bastardo, 28, has a 3.38 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and 51/24 K/BB ratio in 42 2/3 innings this season out of the Phillies’ bullpen. He’d fill the Reds’ need in lefty relief with Sean Marshall (shoulder) done for the year.

Bastardo is making $2 million this season and will be arbitration-eligible for the final time in 2015.

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.