Spring training home run leader Jake Fox designated for assignment by Orioles

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Jake Fox made some headlines during spring training for hitting .333 with an MLB-leading seven homers, which got people who didn’t know any better way too excited about a 27-year-old journeyman without a defensive home.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter stressed that Fox would have to improve defensively to get much playing time and sure enough he got a grand total of just 52 plate appearances through the team’s first 53 games.

Fox didn’t help himself by hitting .188 with two homers and a .646 OPS, and today the Orioles designated him for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Brian Matusz’s return from the disabled list.

Fox can still be a relatively useful bench player, but he’s hit just .231 with a .701 OPS through 519 plate appearances in the majors, isn’t a good enough catcher to be more than an emergency option behind the plate, and showed weak plate discipline even while crushing Triple-A pitching.

More than anything else, though, he shows that spring training numbers mean nothing as soon as the real games start. But we knew that already.

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.