Holliday set for Friday return, Berkman could miss weekend

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The Cardinals received good news Thursday evening on all three of their starting outfielders.

Colby Rasmus returned to center field and doubled in an afternoon victory over the Astros, left fielder Matt Holliday has been cleared of his quad discomfort and is expected to return Friday, and right fielder Lance Berkman underwent an MRI on his wrist that ruled out ligament damage.

That all comes from ESPN 101’s Brian Stull.

The Cardinals have featured one of baseball’s most productive outfields this season. Rasmus has an .855 OPS and 32 runs scored, Holliday is batting an MVP-like .357/.444/.557 with 28 RBI, and Berkman has a stunning .349/.455/.683 slash line with 11 home runs and 35 RBI.

Rasmus and Holliday should be able to play all three games of the Cardinals’ upcoming interleague weekend series against the Royals. Berkman is likely to return to the starting lineup by early next week.

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.