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Veteran infielder Will Middlebrooks, who signed a minor league contract with the Philadelphia Phillies last month, suffered a broken left leg during Saturday’s spring training game, manager Gabe Kapler told reporters.

Playing third base, Middlebrooks was injured in the eighth inning when he drifted back while attempting to catch a pop fly. Left fielder Andrew Pullin was coming in on the ball, and Middlebrooks’ ankle appeared to get caught underneath Pullin.

Middlebrooks was attended to by trainers before leaving the field on a cart.

Kapler said Sunday that Middlebrooks has a broken fibula and his ankle still needs further evaluation. No timetable has been given on Middlebrooks’ recovery.

Middlebrooks, 29, has played just 32 games in the majors the past two seasons, hitting .211 in 38 at-bats with the Texas Rangers in 2017. For his career, he is a .228 hitter with 43 homers and 155 RBIs.

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Infielder Matt Duffy joins other Chicago Cubs players on COVID-19 related injured list

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The Chicago Cubs placed infielder Matt Duffy on the COVID-19 related injured list, the team announced Tuesday afternoon.

He joins relievers Brandon Workman, Jason Adam and Dan Winkler on the list after two coaches — first base coach Craig Driver and bullpen coach Chris Young — tested positive recently.

The Cubs had zero positive tests in 2020 but haven’t had the same luck this season. Driver tested positive last week, while Young received his positive test result on Monday morning, forcing the three relievers to go on the list that day as well.

Only the two coaches are confirmed positives. It’s assumed the three relievers were in close contact with Young while in the bullpen, but Duffy represents the first non-pitcher to appear on the COVID-19 related injured list.

It is unknown when the players or coaches will be able to return.

The Cubs called up Ildemaro Vargas from their alternate site to take Duffy’s place on the roster.

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Seattle Mariners LHP James Paxton to have season-ending elbow surgery

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James Paxton‘s first season back with the Seattle Mariners has come to an abrupt end, as the left-hander will undergo season-ending surgery, manager Scott Servais said Tuesday.

Servais said Paxton will have surgery on his left elbow, but did not say Tommy John.

Paxton, 32, went on the 10-day injured list Wednesday with a forearm strain in his pitching arm after leaving his first start of the season in the second inning after 24 pitches.

Paxton was 41-26 with a 3.42 ERA for the Mariners from 2013 to 2018, striking out 617 and walking 168 in 582⅓ innings. He was traded to the New York Yankees in November 2018 for a top prospect, left-hander Justus Sheffield, along with outfielder Dom Thompson-Williams and right-hander Erik Swanson.

Paxton struggled in the first half of his first season in New York, rediscovered his breaking ball in the second half and went 15-6 with a 3.82 ERA. He won a career-best 10 straight starts before leaving his final regular-season start after one inning on Sept. 27, 2019.

The Yankees said he had a tight left glute muscle, and he returned to go 1-0 with a 3.46 ERA in three postseason starts, allowing five runs in 13 innings. But he needed surgery in February 2020, when Dr. Andrew Dossett in Dallas performed a microscopic lumbar discectomy to repair a herniated disk and remove a peridiscal cyst.

Paxton was able to start the season on time when the COVID-19 pandemic caused a delay until late July, but he went just 2-3 with a 6.64 ERA in five starts. He did not pitch after Aug. 20 after suffering what the Yankees said was a low-grade strain in his left forearm flexor.

He returned to the Mariners this offseason on a one-year deal.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie, FL to host Olympic baseball qualifying tournament May 31-June 5

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The United States’ delayed second chance at qualifying for the Olympic baseball tournament has been moved to the spring training home of the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals and the exhibition ballpark of the New York Mets.

The Baseball Americas Qualifier will be played on the east coast of Florida in West Palm Beach and Port St. Lucie from May 31 to June 5, the World Baseball Softball Confederation said Tuesday.

The tournament originally was scheduled for March 22-26, 2020, in Surprise and Tempe, Arizona, but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Former Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia will attempt to qualify the U.S. for the Olympics with a yet-to-be-announced roster of minor leaguers and released players. Only players not on 26-man major league rosters and injured lists will be eligible.

Scioscia is the third U.S. manager this Olympic cycle following Joe Girardi and Scott Brosius.

The U.S. plays the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Nicaragua in Group A, and the top two teams advance to the super round along with two teams from Group B, which includes Canada, Colombia, Cuba and Venezuela. The top team from the super round joins Japan, Israel, Mexico and South Korea at the Olympic baseball tournament, to be played from July 28 to Aug. 7 in Fukushima and Yokohama.

Second- and third-place teams advance to a final qualifier in June in Taiwan, which will include Australia, China, Netherlands and Taiwan.

The U.S. was three outs from qualifying for the Olympics in November 2019 at the Premier12 tournament in Tokyo when it wasted a ninth-inning lead and lost to Mexico 3-2 in 10 innings.

Baseball is returning to the Olympics after being dropped for 2012 and 2016. Cuba won the gold medal in 1992, 1996 and 2004, the United States in 2000 and South Korea in 2008.

Baseball is likely to be dropped for the 2024 Olympics in Paris and then restored again for 2028 in Los Angeles.

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