Theriot to lead off for Cubs, with Fontenot likely starting at second base

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Lou Piniella revealed a few tidbits this afternoon, most notably that Mike Fontenot has a leg up on Jeff Baker as the Cubs’ starting second baseman.
“Right now, as we speak, I think that Fontenot has probably jumped ahead a little in the second base slot,” Piniella told Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. “It hasn’t been finalized, but that’s the way I view it right now.”
Piniella also said that Ryan Theriot will serve as the Cubs’ leadoff man against both right-handers and left-handers, with Kosuke Fukudome hitting second against righties.
Sullivan notes that “Fukudome will sit against lefties and someone else will move into the No. 2 hole,” but it isn’t clear yet who’ll get that assignment because presumed platoon partner Xavier Nady may not be healthy enough to play the outfield early on. Other options include Jeff Baker and Kevin Millar.

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

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PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.