Shin-Soo Choo aiming to return to Tribe in less than 15 days

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Shin-Soo Choo’s recovery from a fractured left thumb — and the subsequent surgery to repair that fracture — continues to run smoothly.

The Indians right fielder took between 50 and 60 swings in a cage this afternoon and is scheduled to participate in batting practice with his Tribe teammates Thursday at Boston’s Fenway Park.

And the news gets better.

According to beat writer Nick Camino of WTAM 1100, Indians manager Manny Acta told a radio program this evening that Choo is expected to return to the major league lineup in under 15 days.

The 29-year-old native of South Korea still has to make it through a lengthy minor league rehab assignment without experiencing a setback, but all of the early signs are good. Choo was batting just .244/.333/.353 with five home runs and 11 stolen bases in 306 plate appearances before the injury, but he still has an impressive .853 career OPS and could help the Indians turn it around in the race for the American League Central crown.

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.