Evan Longoria ready to ramp up rehab from hamstring injury

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Rays manager Joe Maddon offered some cryptic comments earlier this week regarding Evan Longoria’s recovery from a partially torn left hamstring, but he is moving in the right direction.

According to Bill Chastain, Adam Berry and Greg Zeck of MLB.com, Longoria said yesterday that he’s ready to ramp up his rehab process. The 26-year-old third baseman was pulled from a minor league rehab assignment last week after feeling discomfort in the hamstring, but he told reporters that he’s confident he’s “not back to square one.”

“We’re finally moving back forward again,” Longoria said. “It wasn’t like I thought — it wasn’t anything major. … I’ve already missed enough time as it is, and I don’t want my season to be over at this point by doing something stupid. That was the decision; it was my decision.”

Longoria has been sidelined with the injury since the end of April. He’ll still need to make it through batting, fielding and running drills without incident before being cleared to begin another rehab assignment, but it sounds like his return might not be too far off after all.

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.