Padres catcher Nick Hundley nurses strained oblique

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Update: Hundley was placed on the disabled list prior to Friday’s game, making room for Phillips.

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It hasn’t put him on the DL, but Nick Hundley is unavailable for Friday’s game with a strained right oblique, forcing the Padres to call up a third catcher in Kyle Phillips.

Although he’s slumping lately, Hundley has been the Padres’ best hitter this season, amassing a .263/.336/.421 line, three homers and 12 RBI in 95 at-bats. After opening the season in the eight hole, he’s spent time batting fourth and fifth recently.

Taking his place tonight is ex-Mariner Rob Johnson, who won the Padres’ backup catcher gig by default after Gregg Zaun retired this spring. He’s 8-for-27 with a homer and 11 strikeouts in limited action.

Phillips, the younger brother of former big-leaguer Jason Phillips, will be making his major league debut nine years after being drafted by the Twins. He was hitting .316/.341/.447 in 76 at-bats for Double-A San Antonio.

(And, yes, that is a picture of Nick Hundley. You just have to look really closely.)

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.