Will Middlebrooks

At career crossroads, 'fearless' Middlebrooks vows comeback from injury

At career crossroads, 'fearless' Middlebrooks vows comeback from injury

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Will Middlebrooks wears a bracelet on his left wrist that says fearless. That is the way he likes to play and it is the way he was playing when he suffered a broken leg – and maybe more – Saturday afternoon.
 
“As soon as you don’t take chances you don’t know how good you can be,” Middlebrooks said upon returning to the Phillies' clubhouse on crutches and with a cast on his leg Sunday.
 
Middlebrooks, 29, broke his left fibula in a collision with outfielder Andrew Pullin in Saturday’s game against the Orioles. Middlebrooks was playing third base when he sprinted back after a soft fly ball to left. He slid trying to make a catch and his leg bent awkwardly under the hard-charging Pullin. Middlebrooks was to see a specialist on Sunday. More tests are planned to determine whether he sustained damage to the ligaments in his ankle, as well.
 
“It was just a freak play,” Middlebrooks said. “I had a good talk with Pully about it. He was distraught. I was at the hospital yesterday, got his number and texted him. I told him everything was fine, you didn’t do anything wrong. It was just one of those plays.”
 
Middlebrooks, who has played in the majors with Boston, San Diego, Milwaukee and Texas, is in camp with the Phillies on a minor-league contract. He appeared to be a long shot to make the big-league team as a reserve corner infielder and likely would have provided depth at Triple A Lehigh Valley. He will likely need surgery to repair the injury. No timetable was given for his recovery, but he will be out for a significant amount of time.
 
In one breath, Middlebrooks conceded that the injury could threaten his career.
 
“Yeah, the game is getting younger every day,” he said. “I’ll be 30 this year. Unfortunately, that’s not prime anymore. You look in this clubhouse and everyone is 23, 24 years old. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t cross my mind.”
 
In the next, he promised to be back on the field this year.
 
“In the small window of time I’ve spent here with the staff and the training staff, I think I’ll be fine,” he said. “If it takes two months, if it takes four or five months, I don’t know how long it will take. I’m not counting myself out. I plan on playing this year.”
 
The Phillies are looking for versatility in filling out their bench. Middlebrooks is one of four veteran infielders with big-league experience in camp on a minor-league deal. Pedro Florimon, Ryan Flaherty and Adam Rosales are the others. Jesmuel Valentin and Scott Kingery, both members of the 40-man roster, are also in camp. Kingery is expected to open the season at Triple A.

Phillies infielder taken to hospital after on-field collision

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AP Images

Phillies infielder taken to hospital after on-field collision

UPDATED: Sunday, Feb. 25 - 11:30 a.m.

Kapler announced Middlebrooks has suffered a fractured left fibula and that Middlebrooks' ankle still is being evaluated.

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Third baseman Will Middlebrooks was transported to a nearby hospital after suffering what appeared to be a serious injury to his left ankle when he was involved in a collision in left field during Saturday afternoon’s Phillies-Baltimore Orioles game.

Middlebrooks, 29, in camp with the Phillies on a minor-league contract, collided with left fielder Andrew Pullin as the two converged on a soft fly ball by Baltimore’s DJ Stewart in the eighth inning.

There was no immediate word on Middlebrooks’ condition.

“I've seen it on video at this point,” manager Gabe Kapler said moments after the game, a 9-6 Phillies’ win. “He's on the way to the hospital to get X-rays. It was a pretty emotional moment, no question about it. He was disappointed to come out of the game after sort of busting his balls for the first five or six days and being in really, really good condition and being excited about camp. We'll see how this goes.” 

Middlebrooks’ left leg bent awkwardly as he and Pullin went to the ground trying to make a catch. Middlebrooks was tended to on the field by the Phillies’ athletic training staff. Emergency technicians on site were quickly summoned. A splint was placed on Middlebrooks’ lower left leg and he was taken off the field on a Clearwater Fire and Rescue motorized cart.

Pullin was shaken as he talked about the collision.

“It was kind of one of those balls that’s in between,” he said. “I was running hard and I didn’t hear him call it and I didn’t call it because I wasn’t sure if I could get to it. At the last minute, I slid for it. I’m not sure if he called it.

“I slid and I think I went right into his ankle. Hopefully it’s not too bad.”

Pullin confirmed that Middlebrooks was in significant pain as he lay on the ground.

“He wasn’t doing too good,” Pullin said.

Middlebrooks is a former top prospect of the Boston Red Sox. He played from 2012 to 2014 in the majors with that club and has appeared in the majors with San Diego, Milwaukee and Texas the last three seasons.

The Phillies signed Middlebrooks in the offseason to provide some corner infield depth. He was considered a long shot to make the big-league club and figured to play at Triple A Lehigh Valley. The Phillies will deal with those specifics later. As the work day ended Saturday, only Middlebrooks’ health mattered.

“More than anything, you put yourself in his position,” Kapler said. “A ton of hard work leads up to that moment, giving everything he has on that play, which is what we ask our players to do. The promise we make to fans in Philadelphia is that we're going to play like that. We're going to sacrifice our bodies for that kind of moment in a spring training game. That's exactly what he did. It's really tough. I felt for Will in that moment. We're all pulling really hard for him.”

Pedro Florimon heads list of Phillies' signings

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USA Today Images

Pedro Florimon heads list of Phillies' signings

The Phillies on Wednesday announced the signings of 10 players to minor-league contracts. All of the players received non-roster invites to big-league spring training camp, which opens on Feb. 14.

The most notable player on the list is veteran utility man Pedro Florimon, who returns to the organization after spending most of the 2017 season with the Triple A Lehigh Valley club before joining the big club in mid-August.

The Phillies actually signed Florimon early in the offseason, a sign that he's in their plans for the coming season. The 31-year-old played shortstop, second base, third base and all three outfield positions for Lehigh Valley last year, then did the same thing in 15 games with the big club. Florimon went 16 for 46 (.348) with five extra-base hits before going down with a dislocated ankle that ended his season on Sept. 2.

Florimon's versatility gives him a good chance to make the Phillies' opening day roster in the utility role once filled by Andres Blanco. Heck, he could be the opening day second baseman, keeping the position warm for prospect Scott Kingery, if the Phillies were to move Cesar Hernandez in a deal for pitching.

Florimon has also played in the majors with Baltimore, Minnesota and Pittsburgh.

In addition to Florimon, the Phillies re-signed relief pitcher Pedro Beato, infielder Mitch Walding and catcher Logan Moore. All are expected to provide depth in the upper levels of the minors.

The team announced the signing of six players who played in other organizations last season. They include pitcher Steve Geltz, infielders Will Middlebrooks and Heiker Meneses, catcher Eric Fryer, catcher/first baseman/outfielder Matt McBride and outfielder Danny Ortiz.