Stephen Strasburg starts throwing after Tommy John surgery

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Stephen Strasburg, who felt a “pop” in his elbow on August 21 and underwent Tommy John surgery two weeks later, has started throwing again.

It’s just the first step on the year-plus road to recovery and Strasburg is still nowhere near getting back on a mound yet, but Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post that the former No. 1 overall pick “was so excited to be able to toss a ball.”

The best-case scenario for Strasburg would likely involve making a few low-pressure appearances in September, but the Nationals have no reason to rush him back for that if he suffers any kind of setback or simply needs a bit more time than the ahead-of-schedule Tommy John survivors who’ve come back in less than 12 months. In some cases it takes 18 months to return to game action and as pitchers like Francisco Liriano have shown even then it often takes significantly longer before surgically repaired arms start to feel like their old self again.

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.