Rays third baseman Evan Longoria, an accomplished .278/.357/.513 career hitter, has registered a lowly .221 batting average and .281 on-base percentage since the beginning of June.
After another 0-for-4 performance in Tuesday’s loss to the Twins, Longoria may have revealed to reporters the primary cause for that extended slump.
According to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times, the talented 25-year-old has been experiencing occasional discomfort in his left foot this season, the result of a nerve problem called a Morton’s neuroma. He tried to downplay the matter on Tuesday night:
“Every once in a while I take a bad swing and it just acts up. At this point I’ve gotten used to it. It’s something I’m going to battle through and it’s not going to affect playing time.”
The Rays are likely hoping that Longoria can limp his way to the All-Star break and then return as a refreshed player in mid-July. He was not named to the American League All-Star roster this year for the first time since breaking into the majors in 2008 and is sporting an OPS (.781) that is 89 points below his career mean (.870).
The frosted tips and “Wild Thing” haircut he’s been sporting this week may be part of a slump-busting effort.
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.
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.