Nationals return Jesus Flores to Triple-A after brief comeback

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After missing most of 2009 and all of 2010 with shoulder problems Jesus Flores made it back to the majors last week for his first game action since September 12, 2009, singled in his first at-bat … and is now going back to Triple-A.

Flores’ comeback story is a good one, but when the Nationals called him up last week I wondered what exactly they planned to do with a third catcher when Wilson Ramos and Ivan Rodriguez were both playing regularly behind the plate. It turns out they didn’t plan to do anything with him, so after a grand total of two at-bats in nine days they optioned Flores to Triple-A to make room on the roster for utility man Brian Bixler.

Here’s what manager Jim Riggleman said about the move:

We’re carrying three catchers, and we just don’t really think it’s doing Jesus much good here. The opportunities and the need are not arising that often. We need to get him back down there playing.

He’s right, of course, but it just seems odd that Riggleman and the Nationals couldn’t connect those dots before actually calling Flores up to sit on the bench for two weeks. It’s possible that Flores could share time with Ramos next season after Rodriguez leaves as a free agent, but the Nationals trading him at midseason to a team that still views the 26-year-old as a potential starter behind the plate makes the most sense.

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.