Nick Franklin is making his first career start in the outfield

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Nick Franklin lost his starting job at second base when the Mariners signed Robinson Cano and then failed to beat out Brad Miller in a spring training shortstop competition. That led to a demotion to Triple-A, but he crushed Pacific Coast League pitching to earn a quick call-up … and now he’s starting in right field today.

It’s the first time in Franklin’s entire professional career, majors or minors, that he’s started somewhere other than shortstop or second base and he’s logged a grand total of two innings as an outfielder.

He’s getting a chance in the outfield largely because of Logan Morrison’s hamstring injury, but if Franklin hits well it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Mariners give him an extended look. If nothing else it would be a way to showcase his bat for a potential trade to a team that still views the 23-year-old as a long-term solution in the middle infield.

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.