Nelson Cruz aiming to return to Rangers on Tuesday

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Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz has been on the 15-day disabled list since late May with a strained left hamstring.  It’s actually his second DL stint of the season, and one that may be close to ending.

He began a rehab assignment this weekend and went 0-for-3 with a walk as the designated hitter for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Saturday night.  On Sunday evening he will play the outfield, a major step toward an anticipated Tuesday return.  Rangers manager Ron Washington has heard nothing but good things concerning his outfielder’s progress.

“Cruz is doing well,” Washington told MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan. “We haven’t heard
any complaints about anything. He’s running everything out and running
good in the outfield. He’s good. If he makes it through today, we’ll
have him back starting Tuesday.”

Cruz has killed the ball this season on the major league level, but has obviously struggled to stay healthy.  He will return to a .327/.405/.729 batting line, 10 home runs, 43 RBI and seven stolen bases.  The Rangers have rattled off seven straight wins and have won nine of their last 10.  Having Cruz back in the lineup should only boost the club’s potential for wins.

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.