The Braves' Matt Diaz is no fool; praises Jason Heyward's ascension

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Mat Diaz.jpgIf there’s anyone who has a right to be bummed by Jason Heyward winning the Braves’ starting right field job it’s Matt Diaz who is basically losing his starting job to Heyward. But part of what makes Diaz a useful player is that he’s pretty smart, and his brains were on full display today when he was asked about Heyward:

“I’m sure the fans are pleased, but I know this
locker room’s very, very pleased. We’re all pumped. We know he can help
us. He’s going to make pitchers pitch differently . . .I have no idea how it’s going to work. I just know we have
four really good outfielders, and Bobby always finds a
way to find people playing time. I’m sure if he feels I have the hot
hand, I’ll get to play. I don’t know what position, I don’t know when.
I’m sure the other guys are the same way.”

I’m sure Diaz is aware that Heyward, for all of his promise, is being overhyped to some degree. I’m also sure that if you asked him to be totally honest he’d say that in 2010 he could probably outhit Heyward, certainly against lefties, and very likely overall (indeed; if Heyward puts up a 120-130 OPS+ like Diaz is capable of he’d exceed his already high expectations).

But Diaz is no fool. He knows who the future is in Atlanta, and it certainly isn’t a 32 year-old platoon guy.  Maybe it’s not appropriate to praise Diaz for acknowledging what seems manifest, but worse players than him have reacted far more poorly upon losing their jobs in the past, and it’s nice to see that any potential headaches in this situation are being avoided.

But wouldn’t it be great to see Melky Cabrera lose his head over all of this?

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.