Albert Pujols downplays contract status … again

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Albert Pujols made an appearance at the Cardinals’ “winter warm-up” event this afternoon and naturally the assembled media asked him about his contract status despite the fact that he’s signed through 2011. Here’s what Pujols had to say:

My timetable is when I’m a free agent. Right now we’ve got a couple years. I don’t need to worry about that right now. Right now my job is to let my agent do my talking. We’re open to talk about it. But I’ll tell you: When the season starts we’re not talking about it.

Rarely has there been this much attention paid to the contract status of a player still two full seasons away from free agency, but I suppose everything is a little different for the best player in baseball. For comparison Joe Mauer is merely the best player in the American League, but unlike Pujols he’s just one season away from free agency and yet the Twin Cities media has paid about half as much attention to his contract status.

Mike Trout has a torn thumb ligament, could require surgery

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Yesterday Mike Trout left the Marlins-Angels game after hurting his thumb while sliding head first into second base. After the game the Angels talked about it as if it were just a sprain. Trout had an MRI today, however, and the diagnosis is far worse: he has a torn thumb ligament.

While a treatment option has not yet been chosen, surgery is a possibility. A certainty is that he’ll miss, at the very least, several weeks of play. He has been placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career.

Trout, the reigning AL MVP and, without question, the best player in baseball, is batting .337/.461/.742 with 16 home runs, 36 RBI, 36 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in 206 plate appearances this season. Even with the one of the weaker supporting casts in baseball, Trout had the Angels near .500 and in at least arguable contention in the AL West.

Without him, they are likely sunk. Without him, baseball is worse off.

Basebrawl! Harper, Strickland punch away, Nats-Giants fight

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SAN FRANCISCO — Nationals slugger Bryce Harper and San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland both landed punches to the head during a wild brawl that erupted Monday after a hit by pitch.

Harper was hit in the right hip by Strickland’s 98 mph fastball in the eighth inning with Washington ahead 2-0.

Harper pointed the bat toward Strickland, charged the mound and fired his batting helmet wide of the pitcher. They started to swing away and they each connected as the benches and bullpens emptied.

At least two Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the brawl all the way into the dugout. Harper and Strickland were both ejected.

In the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland. After the star’s second shot, in Game 4, he stared at Strickland as he rounded the bases.