Will Middlebrooks came into Phillies camp hoping to find a spot on the major league roster, but a collision with outfielder Andrew Pullin ended that dream and could have possibly been the final play of Middlebrooks’ career. The two collided on a short pop-up to left field with Middlebrooks racing back and Pullin going at full-speed toward the infield to make the play.
By all accounts, both players made the correct move on the play, but it ended with Pullin crashing down on Middlebrooks’ left leg, causing the fibula to break and possibly doing damage to his ankle as well. While Middlebrooks was attended to on the field, Pullin was visibly shaken by the turn of events. Eventually, Middlebrooks was carted off the field on a cart with an air-cast on his leg and was later told that he’ll need surgery to repair the damage in the leg, which may have at least ended his season.
The 29-year old Middlebrooks conceded that the rest of his career is now in at least some doubt as he enters a long period of rehab and an unknown future.
“The game is getting younger every day. I’ll be 30 this year. Unfortunately, that’s not prime anymore,” Middlebrooks told reporters on Sunday, the day following the accident. “You look in this clubhouse and everyone is 24-years old. I’d be lying if I said it [being the end of his career] didn’t cross my mind.”
Matt Gelb of The Athletic detailed the incident and noted that Middlebrooks went to the effort of getting Pullin’s phone number so he could text him to tell him that what happened wasn’t his fault and that he held no hard feelings toward him about the accident. Pullin noted his appreciation for Middlebrooks reaching out to him and told Gelb that it had been on his mind.
Middlebrooks went from being one of the best prospects in the game prior to the 2012 season to having survived on three minor league deals and getting just 65 major league at-bats over the past two seasons. A series of injuries, including a broken right writs and a series of strained muscles played a big role in detouring his career.