Angels, Tigers have serious interest in Rays’ James Shields

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CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman provides the scoop:

Rays veteran right-hander James Shields looks like a prime trade candidate and at least the Tigers and Angels are said to have interest.

There have been reports that the Rays might consider dealing any of their five viable right-handed starters. But Shields looks like the most logical candidate due to his $9-million option for 2013.

The Rays will be looking to acquire pitching prospects and/or a young catcher in a return package.

Shields, 30, has registered an underwhelming 4.39 ERA and 1.44 WHIP in 20 starts this season, but he’s fanned 124 batters across 131 1/3 innings and can dominate opposing lineups when he’s really feeling it.

The SoCal native earned Cy Young Award votes last year after finishing with a 2.82 ERA in 249 1/3 frames.

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.