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Cincinnati’s Nick Castellanos tossed as Reds, St. Louis Cardinals scrap at plate and outfield

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CINCINNATI — Nick Castellanos stood over, flexed and jawed at St. Louis pitcher Jake Woodford after scoring Saturday, setting off a series of scuffles between the Cincinnati Reds and Cardinals that included relievers shoving in the outfield on their way back to the bullpen.

Castellanos was the only player ejected in the skirmish.

Castellanos, who homered on Opening Day and hopped out of the box before tossing his bat, was plunked by Woodford with two outs and none on in the fourth inning. Castellanos retrieved the ball and offered to toss it back to Woodford before flipping it out of play.

A wild pitch soon sent Castellanos scampering home from third, and he scored with a headfirst slide for a 7-2 lead, bumping into Woodford, who took the throw from catcher Yadier Molina at the plate.

As Castellanos began walking away, Molina rushed up and tapped him from behind, and the benches and bullpens emptied in a wild scene.

There was more pushing and shoving before order seemed to be restored. But as relief pitchers for both teams were heading back to their bullpens, they tangled in the outfield.

Back in 2010, the Cardinals and Reds got into a major brawl at Cincinnati. Molina and Brandon Phillips began barking at the plate, and eventually Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto got pinned against the backstop and tried to kick his way out.

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Albert Pujols in agreement with Los Angeles Dodgers on major league deal, sources say

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The Los Angeles Dodgers and first baseman Albert Pujols are in agreement on a major league contract, sources told ESPN on Saturday, confirming a report by the Los Angeles Times.

The agreement isn’t expected to become official until Monday, a source said.

Pujols, in the last year of his 10-year, $240 million contract, was designated for assignment by the Los Angeles Angels on May 6 and was officially released on Thursday after clearing waivers.

Pujols, 41, would seemingly be coming in for a part-time role. Max Muncy has started 32 of the Dodgers’ first 38 games at first base, but he also provides the versatility to help at third base and second base, which would open up some playing time for Pujols at first base.

The Dodgers entered Saturday with a .663 OPS against opposing left-handed pitchers this season, 136 points less than the team’s OPS against righties.

Pujols, one of the best right-handed-hitters in baseball history, could help with that. Pujols was batting only .198/.250/.372 in his first 92 plate appearances this season, but his .513 expected slugging percentage suggested he had also been running into some bad luck.

He is fifth in major league history with 667 homers and 13th with 3,253 hits. A three-time National League MVP and two-time World Series champion with the St. Louis Cardinals, Pujols has a .298 career average and .921 OPS. He is a 10-time All-Star and had been the oldest active player in the major leagues.

Pujols was in a 7-for-43 slump at the time he was cut.

He batted .328 with a 1.037 OPS in St. Louis, but hit .256 with a .758 OPS in Anaheim along with 222 homers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Tampa Bay Rays deal reliever Hunter Strickland to Los Angeles Angels

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The Tampa Bay Rays traded right-handed relief pitcher Hunter Strickland to the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations.

Strickland, 32, has appeared in 13 games for the Rays this season, registering a 1.69 ERA with 16 strikeouts in 16 innings pitched.

He made the Rays roster in spring training as a non-roster invitee.

The eight-year veteran has a 16-16 career record with 21 saves and a 3.14 ERA and 249 strikeouts. He also has pitched for the Giants, Mariners, Nationals and Mets during his career.

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Chicago Cubs outfielder Ian Happ ‘good’ after being activated from IL

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The Chicago Cubs activated outfielder Ian Happ from the injured list after he missed time due to bruised ribs.

“They’re good,” Happ said Saturday morning. “I feel great. It’s not like anything I’ve ever had before. Working out the last three to four days, being able to throw, hit, run and do everything it takes to play in a major league baseball game.”

Happ, 26, was injured in a collision with second baseman Nico Hoerner as both players converged on a pop up in the outfield earlier this month. Hoerner also spent time on the injured list with a forearm injury. He was activated on Friday.

To make room on the roster for Happ, infielder Ildemaro Vargas was designated for assignment. Happ is batting sixth and playing centerfield against the Detroit Tigers on Saturday.

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