Cardinals believe Michael Wacha will pitch again this season

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Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha has been cleared to begin a throwing program after sitting out the past six weeks with a stress reaction in his shoulder.

No official timetable has been established for Wacha’s return, but general manager John Mozeliak gave a straightforward “yes” answer to Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post Dispatch when asked if the Cardinals expect the 23-year-old to pitch again this season.

For now the plan is for Wacha to throw for a couple weeks and then be reevaluated to see how his shoulder feels, which seems to indicate early September would be the earliest he might return to the majors. Before being shut down Wacha built on his impressive rookie campaign by posting nearly identical numbers as a sophomore, including a 2.79 ERA and 83/26 K/BB ratio in 90 innings spread over 15 starts.

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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.