Josh Hamilton returns to lineup after leaving Friday’s game with back spasms

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UPDATE: Good news for the Rangers, as Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest reports that Hamilton is in the lineup as the designated hitter for tonight’s game.

9:45 AM ET: Josh Hamilton left last night’s game against the Twins with lower back spasms. He tweaked his back in the top of the fifth inning after he made an error while trying to track down a fly ball near the warning track in left field. Leonys Martin then pinch-hit for him in the bottom-half of the inning.

Hamilton told MLB.com’s Christian Corona after the game that he had “never felt anything like it before,” but that he had already noticed some improvement. While he felt confident the back issue wouldn’t force him to miss next week’s All-Star Game, his status for Saturday isn’t yet known.

“I’ll know when I wake up tomorrow morning,” Hamilton said. “It still hurts. It’s not as bad. After I iced it, it actually felt worse, but then it thaws out and it feels better. It’s a good sign.”

Hamilton, the leading vote-getter for the All-Star Game, is batting just .222 with five homers and a 37/14 K/BB ratio in 30 games dating back to the start of June. However, thanks to his absurdly hot start, he still leads the American League in RBI, OPS and slugging percentage.

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.