Chris Carpenter nearing return from surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome

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When Chris Carpenter underwent surgery in mid-July to alleviate symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome, it was assumed that he would miss the rest of the season. However, it’s now realistic that he could play a critical role for the Cardinals down the stretch.

Carpenter threw around 70 pitches in a simulated game this afternoon in San Diego after which he told FOX Sports Midwest that he feels “absolutely” ready to make a start. While he’s chomping at the bit to get back out there, Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that he’s scheduled to throw another simulated game on Saturday where he’ll get stretched out to 90 pitches.

Carpenter is ramping things up at a convenient time for the Cardinals, as Jake Westbrook suffered an oblique strain Saturday and is expected to miss at least one start. Lance Lynn will return from the bullpen to start Thursday against the Dodgers, but Carpenter should be an option after that.

Carpenter, 37, hasn’t thrown a pitch in the majors this season after logging 273 innings between the regular season and playoffs last year.

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.