Bizarre report: Manny Ramirez might play winter ball

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ESPNDeportes.com’s Enrique Rojas has a report up presenting text messages from Manny Ramirez saying he’s interested in playing winter ball in his native Dominican Republic for the Aguilas Cibaenes.

The odd thing is that text messages were actually written more than two weeks ago, and Rojas gives no indication of whom they happened to be addressed to.

According to Rojas, Ramirez wrote the following text messages on April 11 and 12 respectively:

“Now I have an Aguilas hat.”
“Tell the fans to not despair because winter ball is coming soon.”

Rojas, though, did manage to get a direct quote from Ramirez on Thursday, saying “Now I’m getting ready to defend the 21st crown of the Aguilas.”

If Ramirez opted to return to MLB following his winter ball stint, he’d still presumably have to serve a 100-game drug suspension. Realistically, he’d only have the slightest chance of drawing minimal interest next spring if he got some team to do him a favor and sign him now, allowing him to serve the suspension over the rest of this season.

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.