Red Sox or not, Jason Varitek plans to keep playing in 2011

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Whether or not it’ll be with the Red Sox remains to be seen, but Jason Varitek said yesterday that he plans to play somewhere in 2011.
Varitek has been out since June 30 with a broken foot and played sparingly as Victor Martinez’s backup even before the injury, logging a total of 105 plate appearances and 23 starts through 79 team games, but the 38-year-old done well in the limited action by hitting .263/.324/.547 for his highest OPS since 2004.
He’s also thrown out 21 percent of stolen base attempts after falling to a career-low 13 percent last season, so Varitek should have no trouble finding a job for next season. And while he’ll no doubt have to take a pay cut from the $8 million he’s earned over the past two seasons, Varitek may even find an opportunity for more playing time than he’s gotten behind Martinez in Boston.
He went 1-for-2 with a sacrifice fly and also threw out a runner in his first rehab game at Triple-A yesterday and could be activated from the disabled list as soon as tomorrow. And with Martinez also an impending free agent, returning to Boston in 2011 for a 15th season with the Red Sox probably can’t be ruled out.

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.