Cubs designate Darwin Barney for assignment, activate Emilio Bonifacio from disabled list

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Darwin Barney logged 500-plus plate appearances for the Cubs each season from 2011-2013 and was the Opening Day second baseman this year, but today he was designated for assignment to make roster room for Emilio Bonifacio’s return from the disabled list.

Barney is a good defender, but he’s hit just .244 with a .625 OPS in 542 career games as a big leaguer, including .230 with a .594 OPS in 72 games this year. At age 28 he doesn’t have any real upside, but should be able to latch on somewhere as a utility infielder.

His being let go suggests the Cubs are ready to stick with 22-year-old rookie Arismendy Alcantara at second base after initially calling him up two weeks ago as temporary roster depth. In fact, his debut came specifically because Barney went on paternity leave. Alcantara has batted .286 with six extra-base hits and three steals in eight games and if the Cubs do decide to send him back to the minors at some point they could always just turn to Bonifacio at second base.

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.