Pirates’ starting catcher Chris Snyder to have back surgery

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UPDATE: Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review reports that Snyder needs surgery and may be lost for the season.

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Coming into the season the Pirates had so much catching depth that they were desperately trying to trade Ryan Doumit rather than use him as a part-time outfielder, but now Doumit is on the disabled list with an ankle injury and starting catcher Chris Snyder has joined him on the shelf.

Snyder, who began the season on the DL with a lower back injury, is sidelined again by the same problem, according to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com.

To make matters worse, would-be call-up Jason Jaramillo is on the DL at Triple-A with an elbow injury, which leaves minor-league veterans Dusty Brown and Wyatt Toregas to split time behind the plate in Pittsburgh for now.

Former first-round pick Tony Sanchez is the Pirates’ long-term answer at catcher, but he’s just 23 years old and not exactly dominating at Double-A with a .725 OPS in 46 games. Langosch writes that “Sanchez is not coming up … he isn’t even moving to Triple-A.” She speculates that the Pirates could claim Jake Fox off waivers after he was designated for assignment by the Orioles last week, but there are plenty of questions about how useful he can be as a catcher defensively.

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.