Middlebrooks: 'I plan on playing this year'

Phils' outfielder remaining positive after sustaining broken leg; Franco launches first spring homer

February 25th, 2018

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Will Middlebrooks has considered the possibility that this could be the end of his professional baseball career.
But Middlebrooks is not there yet, even after suffering a fractured left fibula and possibly further damage to his left ankle following a collision in the outfield with Phillies teammate on Saturday in a Grapefruit League game at Spectrum Field. Middlebrooks, 29, arrived at the ballpark Sunday in a cast, on crutches and uncertain about his future in baseball.
"The game is getting younger every day," Middlebrooks said. "I'll be 30 this year. Unfortunately, that's not prime anymore. You look in this clubhouse and everybody is 23, 24 years old. I'd be lying if I said it didn't cross my mind. But the small window of time I've spent here with this staff and training staff, I think I'll be just fine. If it takes two months, if it takes four or five months, I don't know how long it's going to take yet. I'm not counting myself out. I plan on playing this year."
Middlebrooks entered camp as a non-roster invitee hoping to make a positive impression in camp and join the Phillies at some point this season. Now he must heal from a fracture that is located "mid-shin," plus other possible joint and ligament damage.

Middlebrooks said he will see a specialist to formulate a plan for the next couple weeks. He expects to have surgery.
"Injuries have been my kryptonite the last few years," Middlebrooks said. "Majors injuries, nagging stuff. I definitely had a different mindset coming into this camp. I'm disappointed, because there's really something special brewing in this clubhouse with this group of guys. I don't know if it's going to be this year or next year or whenever -- we're going to be really, really good."
Middlebrooks has played parts of six seasons with the Red Sox, Padres, Brewers and Rangers. He won a World Series with Boston in 2013. He acknowledged entering camp at a career crossroads, which is partially why he has been wearing a black bracelet on his left wrist this spring that says, "Fearless."
It has been Middlebrooks' Spring Training mantra. He wore the bracelet Sunday.

"It's just something that had been going through my mind," Middlebrooks said. "Fearless to me is not being afraid to fail. 'Bold,' I guess you could say, is the term around here. I feel if you play with a fear of failure, you don't tap into how great you can be. If you question your every move, you don't want to fail, you don't want to mess up, so for me, it's being able to play free and not question myself and be OK with messing up, be OK with failing."
Middlebrooks considered Saturday's play a freak event. He called for the ball, but he probably was too far from Pullin for him to hear him.
Middlebrooks made a point to get Pullin's number while he was at the hospital Saturday.
"He was distraught," Middlebrooks said. "I told him everything was fine, you didn't do anything wrong. I just didn't want him to be broken down about it, because that can be tough. I had a good talk with him today and let him know, 'You didn't do anything wrong. I don't want you to take blame.' It was just as much my fault. Just one of those plays."

Franco's blast
hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning of the Phils' 8-3 loss to the Yankees on Sunday. It was his first homer of the spring.
Franco, who needs a big season to be part of the Phillies' future, said he has been working recently on the placement and stride of his front foot -- he said it is more in front of his body than last season -- which he hopes will improve his balance and rhythm at the plate. Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said he is excited about the mechanical adjustments Franco has made.
:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::
Extra bases
• Prospect struck out two in a scoreless inning. He has impressed early in camp.
"We're trying to figure out a nickname for him so we can talk to him on the mound," Kapler said. "You can't go with 'Seranthony,' it's just too long. 'Dominguez' is like, you don't even know your player."
Kapler is open to suggestions.
• Second-base prospect played shortstop as the Phillies preach versatility with their players.
Up next
The Phillies travel to Tampa to play the Yankees on Monday night at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Right-hander starts for Philadelphia against at 6:35 p.m. ET on Gameday Audio.