Detroit won't re-sign Johnny Damon; Ordonez to become FA

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Speaking before Sunday’s season finale, Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski said he would not re-sign Johnny Damon or Gerald Laird this winter and that Magglio Ordonez’s $15 million option would be declined.
Dombrowski also indicated that it was unlikely Jeremy Bonderman would be back, but that the team was in talks with fellow free-agent-to-be Brandon Inge about a multiyear deal.
The closest thing to a surprise here is that the Tigers are ruling out Damon, who declined a trade to the Red Sox in August in part because he was happy in Detroit. Damon has given the Tigers their $8 million worth this year while hitting .271/.355/.401 with 11 steals in 536 at-bats.
Ordonez’s option was sure to be declined, but the Tigers will have some interest in re-signing him to a smaller deal. The 36-year-old hit .303/.378/.474 in 323 at-bats before going down with an ankle injury this year.
Getting more athletic in the outfield will likely be a priority for Detroit this winter. Austin Jackson looks like a Gold Glove-quality center fielder, but it’d still help to have him surrounded by better defenders than Damon and Ordonez. Brennan Boesch could play left or right regularly, but he doesn’t figure to be handed a job after his extremely rough second half. The Tigers figure to bring in at least one veteran outfielder this winter even if they re-sign Ordonez.
The other matters were pretty clear cut. Inge, who is finishing up a four-year, $24 million contract, won’t get such a long deal this time, but he might command a similar annual salary. The Tigers like his play at third base even though his offensive numbers don’t really stack up. Laird was sure to be forced out, and the team will find someone else to pair with young Alex Avila in 2011. Bonderman may be offered a minor league deal to return and battle for the fifth spot in the rotation, but he’ll surely seek guaranteed money elsewhere.

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.