Charlie Manuel on Brad Lidge’s return timetable: “All-Star break or just before that”

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During a radio interview today Phillies manager Charlie Manuel gave an update on Brad Lidge’s health status, saying he’s “probably looking at maybe All-Star break or just before that” for the closer to return from a partially torn rotator cuff.

That’s considerably longer than the initial timetable given late last month, which had Lidge missing 3-6 weeks. However, according to Cash Kruth of MLB.com that 3-6 weeks likely represents the time Lidge will be shut down completely, at which point he could begin a throwing program and start making his way back from the injury.

Manuel tabbed Jose Contreras as the fill-in closer, bypassing Ryan Madson despite the fact that he’s consistently been the Phillies’ best reliever for the past four seasons because just about everyone involved with the team seems to believe he can’t handle ninth-inning duties. Contreras successfully converted his first save chance of the season yesterday.

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.