Carlos Beltran to bat cleanup in return from DL Thursday

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When Mets manager Jerry Manuel isn’t busy thinking of new situations to sacrifice bunt, he’s been writing “I <3 Carlos Beltran” in his notebook. Well, after months of longing, he’ll finally be reunited with his center fielder immediately after the All-Star break in San Francisco.

According to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com, Manuel intends to bat Beltran in the cleanup spot for Thursday’s second half opener. Manuel originally discussed the idea of batting Beltran third, but doesn’t want to unseat David Wright, who entered play Saturday batting .337/.426/.560 out of the No. 3 spot this season.

Rookie first baseman Ike Davis, who has occupied the cleanup spot nearly every day since late May, entered play Saturday batting just .196/.262/.339 (11-for-56) with two homers, eight RBI and an 11/5 K/BB ratio over his last 15 games.

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.