Will Middlebrooks could remain in minors after DL stint

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Will Middlebrooks began a minor-league rehab assignment last night at Triple-A, but manager John Farrell indicated that the third baseman may not automatically return to the Red Sox once he’s recovered from a back injury.

Griffin Tewksbury of WEEI.com has all of Farrell’s quotes, including:

This is not only a chance to make sure his health issue is behind him, which everything points to that being the case, but also to use this as an opportunity to get some momentum going before he gets back. Hopefully that is sooner rather than later.

Middlebrooks hit just .201 with a .642 OPS in 46 games before the injury and fill-in Jose Iglesias has hit .426, but based on how well Middlebrooks played as a rookie last year and how poorly Iglesias has hit throughout his minor-league career making the swap full time would be very surprising.

Middlebrooks went 2-for-3 with a homer last night, but at the very least the Red Sox apparently won’t be in any hurry to activate him from the disabled list.

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.