John Russell on the hot seat? Hell, he may have gotten a contract extension!

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I still stand by all the stuff I said yesterday about Ken Rosenthal’s Pirates report and the art of rumor-mongering in general, but this business with John Russell and the Pirates seems to quickly be turning into a bad example of an otherwise sound theory.

To review:  Ken Rosenthal reported on Tuesday night that John Russell was close to being fired by the Pirates. Team president Frank Coonelly denied it.  That’s where my little essay fits in.  But the story goes on!

Yesterday Rosenthal walked it back a bit, saying that Pirates’ officials still talked about Russell’s fate, but maybe Coonelly wasn’t part of those talks.  Possible, but it certainly means that the likelihood of Russell getting canned was way, way down once it became apparent that the guy who would pull the trigger wasn’t on board, right?

Today is the topper: Rosenthal reports that, not only is Russell not likely to be fired soon, but that it’s possible he has been given a contract extension!  Rosenthal is sticking with his report that those above and below Frank Coonelly still seem to want Russell gone, but if Coonelly is extending him, those sentiments are rather academic, aren’t they? At least for the purposes of running with a “Russell is on the hot seat” kind of report?

Look, I still think that Rosenthal is a good reporter and — for the reasons I said yesterday —  one need not get off a story just because someone in power has denied it.  But at this rate it seems like John Russell is going to own the Pirates before he gets fired by them, so maybe it’s time to excise the “but sources with the team say Russell is toast . . .” part of this article and go on to the next thing.

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.