Royals release Joe Saunders

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Joe Saunders has been released from Triple-A by the Royals, who’re the fourth organization to cut bait on the veteran left-hander this season.

Saunders allowed 17 runs in 18.2 innings after signing a minor-league deal with the Royals three weeks ago and overall this season he has a 5.18 ERA in the minors and a 6.13 ERA in the majors.

Saunders has said previously that he’s only interested in starting, but at this point he’s presumably running out of teams willing to give him that opportunity and, as a 33-year-old with extreme platoon splits for his entire career, switching to the bullpen could get him back to the majors much more easily.

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Will Middlebrooks carted off field with left ankle 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.