Luke Scott won’t play any defense during spring training

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Luke Scott is coming back from shoulder surgery and Rays manager Joe Maddon said today that he won’t play the field at all during spring training, sticking strictly to designated hitter duties.

That isn’t such a big deal, as Scott is slated to be the Rays’ regular DH, but it does indicate that he’s not fully recovered from the operation to repair a torn labrum in July.

Scott was non-tendered by the Orioles in December following a career-worst season that saw him play just 64 games while hitting .220 with a .703 OPS. He got a one-year, $6 million deal from the Rays that includes a $6 million option for 2013, and the 33-year-old Scott posted an OPS above .800 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010.

Maddon and the Rays have so far laughed off Scott’s various headline-grabbing quotes and behavior, but his outspokenness probably won’t be so amusing if it doesn’t come with 25 homers.

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.