Morneau not yet 100 percent, but moving in that direction

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It has been close to seven whole months since Twins first baseman Justin Morneau took a knee to the head in Toronto and suffered a concussion that would put an end to his 2010 season.

He’s now working out regularly down at the Twins’ spring training facility in Fort Myers, Florida and is making good progress, but the big man is not completely past the head injury and the many aftereffects that go along with it.

Twins general manager Bill Smith spoke about the matter on Saturday with ESPN 1500 AM:

“It’s still a work in progress,” Smith said. “He is not 100%, but I’ve talked to his doctors, I’ve talked to him. He’s getting better all the time, he’s doing very good workouts.  We only want to go through this process one time. We want him to get healed, get back on the field and resume his career without having that rollercoaster up and down.”

The hope is that Morneau will be fully recovered by the time spring training opens in late February.  Of course, we probably won’t know for sure where he stands until live spring training games get underway.

The 29-year-old hit .345/.437/.618 with 18 home runs and 56 RBI in 81 games last season.

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.