Darren Oliver joins Rangers’ front office as special assistant to GM

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43-year-old Darren Oliver retired last fall after 20 seasons in the majors and the Rangers announced today that he has been appointed as a special assistant to the general manager. Not surprisingly, his efforts will be focused on pitching.

Here’s part of the announcement from Rangers general manager Jon Daniels:

“We are very happy to welcome Darren Oliver into an official capacity with the Rangers,” said Daniels. “Darren will focus on pitching on both the major and minor league levels, and he will have a presence in Arlington and with our minor league affiliates. I also expect that he will be a valuable sounding board to our baseball operations group on all fronts.

“Darren has been working with us on an informal basis over the last several months and was a great asset on our trip to the Dominican Republic in January and during his several weeks at spring training camp. I am glad that we have been able to formalize that relationship.”

Oliver spent the final two seasons of his career with the Blue Jays, but he was originally drafted by the Rangers way back in 1988 and had three stints with the club. The southpaw started in the team’s first playoff game in 1996 and later made postseason relief appearances with Texas from 2010-2011. He still resides in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area.

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.