Brendan Donnelly retires after nine seasons in the majors

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Brendan Donnelly has announced his retirement, ending what was a remarkable career for someone who didn’t reach the majors for the first time until age 30 and was never allowed to join the MLB players’ association.

Donnelly spent a decade in the minors pitching for six different organizations–and was a spring training replacement player during the 1994/1995 strike–before the Angels finally gave him a shot in 2002.

He thrived immediately, posting a 2.17 ERA in 50 innings to emerge as a key late-inning reliever on a World Series-winning team and then followed it up with a 1.58 ERA in 74 innings the next season while making the All-Star team with a ridiculous 0.38 first-half ERA.

Donnelly and his trademark goggles remained effective into his mid-30s and even showed flashes of his old dominant self for a brief stint with the Marlins as a 37-year-old in 2007, but injuries set him back numerous times and combined with the extremely late start to equal just 385 career innings (or 259 fewer than he threw in the minors).

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.