Tsuyoshi Nishioka shut down for season with oblique injury

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According to Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com, the Twins have shut down Tsuyoshi Nishioka for the rest of the season due to an oblique injury.

Nishioka hasn’t played since September 9, but the injury has lingered for a few weeks now.

“The last time he tried to play, he was hurting pretty bad,” Gardenhire said. “I said I’m not going to send him back out there like this, and the trainers started talking about it. They wanted to see how he did for a couple days, but he’s not going to play anymore. We’ve told Nishi just to relax.”

Nishioka, who signed a three-year, $9.25 million contract with the Twins last December, batted just .226/.278/.249 with a .527 OPS over 240 plate appearances in his first season stateside while rating below-average defensively. His rookie year appeared doomed from the start, after he fractured his left fibula on a takeout slide by Nick Swisher in early-April.

The Twins still owe Nishioka $3 million next season, $3 million in 2013 and either a $4 million club option or $250,000 buyout for 2014.

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.