Must-click link: Meet Evan Gattis, who has lived a hell of a life so far

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The Braves have a catching prospect named Evan Gattis. He turned heads by hitting .322/.386/.601 and socking 22 homers in a mere 377 plate appearances in the Sally League last year at the age of 24.

Your first thought may be “well, yeah, but 24 is pretty old for the Sally League.”  That’s true. Which means that you can’t necessarily say that Gattis is some uber-prospect.

But it is interesting to hear why, at 24, he was only in the Sally League.  Turns out he has had one hell of a journey in his life these past several years, and today Dave O’Brien of the AJC has his story:

Eight years ago, James Evan Gattis was a burly power hitter coming out of high school in Forney, Texas. He signed with Texas A&M, but never made it to College Station.

Instead he went to drug rehab for 30 days. Then a halfway house for three months. After a brief baseball career at an Oklahoma junior college, he dropped out and tried to tune in or turn on to something, anything that might give him some clarity.

His life began to resemble a Jack Kerouac novel mixed with new age spiritualism wherever he could find it. He traveled the western United States, stopping for a few months here and there, working jobs ranging from ski-lift operator to janitor.

It’s a great read, and he seems like a neat guy.

Though really, he reminds me less of Kerouac — or whatever we’ve come to think of as that which Kerouac represented — and more of James Ellroy.  Someone who, unlike most other people who spend time in the wilderness of drugs and aimlessness, actually find a way out and succeed in the world they should have entered years before.

Such a thing is a romantic notion, but man is it rare.  Once lives are derailed, they tend to say that way.

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.