Cubs' Lilly impressive in return from disabled list

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Ted Lilly was activated from the 15-day disabled list on Saturday afternoon and tossed six scoreless innings against the division rival Cubs.  He should help revitalize a Chicago rotation that has lost a bit of its identity since the demotion of Carlos Zambrano to the bullpen.

Lilly went 12-9 with a career-best 3.10 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP last season for the
Cubs and was even named to the All-Star game mid-summer.  He’s getting a late start this year due to back and shoulder issues that killed his ability to get ready during spring training.

In a corresponding move, reliever Jeff Samardzija was optioned to Triple-A Iowa.  He has been awful this year on the big league level and the Cubs are hoping some appearances against lesser competition will boost his confidence.  The club is also considering grooming him as a starter while he is down in the minor league ranks.

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.