Rockies bats heat up; Tulowitzki to return Tuesday

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The Colorado Rockies, scuffling for much of the season and currently in fourth place in the NL West (33-30) are getting a nice boost for Tuesday’s series opener against the Minnesota Twins as shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is expected to return to the lineup.

Tulowitzki, one of the Rockies more consistent bats this season (.307/.373/.489) missed the last two days with a groin strain, but tells Troy Renck of the Denver Post that “it feels good,” and he expects to play Tuesday.

Tulo’s return, in addition to the improved hitting of late from Todd Helton and Ryan Spilborghs, gives the Rockies, as Renck writes, “their most powerful lineup to date.”

Many folks had the Rockies winning the NL West this season, but they have largely disappointed so far. Are they beginning to turn the corner?

“I hope,” Tulowitzki said. “You just never know.”

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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.