Nelson Cruz’s hamstring injury could motivate Rangers to pursue Lance Berkman

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While the Rangers await word on Nelson Cruz’s latest hamstring injury Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News speculates that Lance Berkman of the Cardinals would be “their prime target … if the Rangers do go elsewhere for help.”

Berkman cleared waivers last week, so the Cardinals are free to trade the 35-year-old outfielder, and he’s owed around $1.3 million for September as part of a one-year contract.

Fraley notes that Berkman considered signing with the Rangers before choosing the Cardinals and he’s been an incredible pickup for St. Louis, hitting .289 with 30 homers and a .975 OPS in 118 games.

Obviously the Rangers would love to add an impact bat to the lineup as they try to stay ahead of the Angels in the AL West, but Berkman said last week that he’d ideally like to re-sign with the Cardinals and regardless of Cruz’s status a last-minute deal for a hitter as good as Berkman seems unlikely.

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.