Damaso Marte has shoulder surgery, out until at least All-Star break next season

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Damaso Marte underwent surgery Friday to repair the labrum in his left shoulder, according to Chad Jennings of the Journal News. Marte was concerned that the surgery could spell the end of his career, but told reporters on Sunday that doctors expect him to begin throwing after the All-Star break in 2011.

“I have to make (the shoulder) better because it’s a lot of pain,” Marte said. “Right now I feel comfortable because the doctor, he gave me a good idea for my arm. He told me, you’re getting better. Next year, I think I can pitch.”

Marte, who originally came over from the Pirates in Xavier Nady trade in 2008, signed a three-year, $12 million deal with the Yankees prior to the 2009 season. He played a significant role in the team’s World Series run last season, but injuries have limited him to just 31 regular season innings and a 6.39 ERA since signing the contract. The Yankees still owe him $4 million in 2011 and either a $250,000 buyout or $4 million option in 2012.

Phillies owner John Middleton is in Las Vegas with Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper
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Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.

Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.

As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.