Ryan Zimmerman to begin minor league rehab assignment Sunday

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While Jayson Werth is out of tonight’s lineup after being hit by a pitch on the elbow last night, the Nationals are very close to getting the face of their franchise back.

Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com reports that Zimmerman will begin a minor league rehab assignment Sunday with low-Class A Hagerstown. Zimmerman, who underwent abdominal surgery exactly one month ago, went 0-for-4 and played four innings in the field today in his second game in extended spring training.

While Zimmerman will likely be in the same lineup as top prospect Bryce Harper on Sunday, he could move to High-A Potomac by Monday or Triple-A Syracuse by Tuesday. Barring any setbacks, he could rejoin the offense-starved Nationals sometime during their current 11-game road trip, which concludes June 12 in San Diego.

Zimmerman was batting .357 (10-for-28) with one home run and four RBI before going on the disabled list with a left abdominal strain on April 10.

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.