The Rangers sign J.R. Towles from independent ball

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J.R. Towels was a backup catcher for the Astros for a few years, with his last big league action coming in 2011. He was stuck in the minors for 2012 and 2013 went off baseball’s grid and into independent ball this season, where he’s played for the Bridgeport Bluefish of the Atlantic League. He’s heading back to affiliated ball now, however, as the team announced that his contract was purchased by the Texas Rangers. He will report to Triple-A Round Rock.

Towles played in 67 games for the Bluefish in 2014, hitting 11 home runs with 37 RBI and holding a .292 batting average. He was also named to the Atlantic League All-Star team.

Guys often head down to the independents for chances like this. They don’t come too often. Good to see someone making the move back to affiliated ball like Towels is.

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.