Neftali Feliz replaces Frank Francisco as Rangers closer … for now

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Early on in spring training the Rangers were deciding whether to use Neftali Feliz as a starter or a reliever, but suddenly the 22-year-old phenom has been thrust into the closer role following two blown saves from Frank Francisco.
Ron Washington made it clear that the switch is intended to be short term, saying: “We need to give him some time to get things together. Frankie will be the closer for the Texas Rangers.”
Francisco began last year by converting 11-of-11 save chances in 17.2 scoreless innings, but since then he has a 7.22 ERA in 33.2 innings while blowing six saves in 20 chances. Between arm problems and extreme fly-ball tendencies Francisco is hardly reliable even if he reclaims the gig and if Feliz ends up staying in the bullpen long term he’s destined for ninth-inning duties eventually anyway.
In other words, don’t presume they’ll switch back.

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.