Doug Fister to begin minor league rehab assignment Sunday

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The Nationals were largely praised when they acquired right-hander Doug Fister from the Tigers during the offseason, but he has yet to throw a pitch for the club due to a lat strain suffered during spring training. If all goes according to plan, that will change soon.

Chase Hughes of CSNWashington.com reports that Fister threw 40 pitches in a bullpen session this afternoon and is scheduled to begin a minor league rehab assignment on Sunday, likely with High-A Potomac. The plan calls for him to throw about 60 pitches for his first outing before going five innings or 75 pitches five days later. That would set him up to join the Nationals around May 7.

Fister, 30, posted a 3.30 ERA from 2011-2013. Only six pitchers (min. 500 IP) bested his 123 ERA+ during that time.

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.