Third baseman Will Middlebrooks left Wednesday night's Grapefruit League game against the Orioles in the first inning with soreness in his right wrist and will be re-evaluated on Thursday.
Middlebrooks, facing Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman with two outs and runners on first and second, tried to check his swing and immediately stepped out of the batter's box clutching the wrist. He was met by members of the training staff as he walked back toward the dugout, flinging his helmet as he exited the game. He was replaced by Pedro Ciriaco, who got the Sox on the board with an RBI single in the third inning.
Middlebrooks fractured his right wrist last August but said earlier this spring that he is "absolutely 100 percent." That, of course, was prior to Wednesday's apparent setback. Should he need to miss any significant time, Ciriaco and top prospect Xander Bogaerts would likely be in the mix to fill the void.
Speaking of Chris Tillman, reports are coming out that he could be the ace of the Orioles staff this year. Of course, that may not be saying much, but nonetheless, everyone expects Tillman to have a big year. He's definitely looked good this week.
Chris Tillman, making his first spring start after Tuesday's rainout, tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings against the Red Sox in Wednesday's 5-3 win.
He got ahead of six of the eight batters he faced but labored after that and issued a pair of walks, including a two-out free pass to Daniel Nava to end his night. "First time out, I'm not really disappointed," Tillman said. "I felt OK. Command was spotty, at best. I guess you kind of expect it for first time out. Other than that, I felt pretty good." Tillman, who is out of options, is projected to be in the rotation. He threw 43 pitches (25 strikes), including a game-opening strikeout of Jacoby Ellsbury. "I was trying to work on my fastball command early," he said. "That's what it's all about the first time out. Mixed up my pitches. Fastball, changeup are there. Breaking stuff's not where it needs to be right now, but it's typical early in spring."
Manager Buck Showalter has said that it's too early to start evaluating players one way or another, and Tillman said he will take advantage of the longer spring and try not to think about it. "It's all about getting ready for April," he said. "Just try to get my work in. Pitch when I'm told."
And finally, cray-cray news out of Marlins camp — where it might as well be AA ball — where a guy named Christian Yelich
is turning heads. Sounds like you need to stash this guy on your list of players to take a flier on in the last round of your draft.
In his first big league camp, Christian Yelich is getting a taste of what it takes to reach the next level. The way the 21-year-old is swinging the bat, it is only a matter of time before he becomes a big league regular.
Yelich was given his biggest chance yet on Wednesday, as he started in left field and batted leadoff against the Nationals. He showed his speed and power on the second pitch of the game, depositing a triple to deep center off starter Dan Haren. "For such a young guy, coming up to Major League camp, he seems really comfortable," manager Mike Redmond said. With so many young players in camp, Yelich is performing in a loose atmosphere. "The one thing about this environment, there are so many other young guys, they feel comfortable," Redmond said. "I think that is important for those guys to be able to go out there and play and show what they can do. He's impressive."
Yelich is one of the top young talents in the Minor Leagues. On MLB.com's Top 100 Prospect List, Yelich ranks 13th. The Marlins are looking to start him off in Double-A Jacksonville, and he could reach the big leagues sometime after the All-Star break.