Kyle Farnsworth blows lead, has tender elbow

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Rays closer Kyle Farnsworth was handed the ball in the ninth inning Saturday night with a 5-3 lead over the visiting Red Sox. He retired the first batter he faced, Marco Scutaro, on a weak groundout.

But almost nothing went right from there.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jacoby Ellsbury hit back-to-back home runs to the right field seats at Tropicana Field, tying the game suddenly at 5-5.

Dustin Pedroia then doubled and Adrian Gonzalez drew a walk before Rays manager Joe Maddon decided to make a change at pitcher.

Evan Longoria eventually saved the day with a walkoff RBI single in extra innings, but the surging Rays may be without their battered closer for the next week or so.

It was Farnsworth’s second straight blown save opportunity, and he was diagnosed afterwards with tenderness in his throwing elbow. This according to Chris Girandola of MLB.com.

“It just never got loose,” Farnsowrth said. “I could never just finish my pitches. I tried to go out there and do the best I could, but I didn’t have my best stuff. It’s tough because I want to go out there and perform for my team, but I just have to take it day by day.”

The Rays have quietly fought their way back into the American League Wild Card mix and currently sit just 4 1/2 games back of the Red Sox. It’s not a great time for Farnsworth to suddenly fall to pieces.

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.