Alex Rodriguez misses sixth straight game with sprained thumb

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Alex Rodriguez is out of the starting lineup for the sixth straight game tonight due to a sprained left thumb. But it isn’t all bad news.

According to the Associated Press, Rodriguez was encouraged after taking batting practice this afternoon.

The difference? Following the advice of Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long, A-Rod put a strip of athletic tape around his bat which allowed him to take batting practice pain-free.

“Today is a really good day,” Rodriguez said after hitting with two batting practice groups. “I’m really encouraged.”

“It was the best I’ve felt in over a month,” Rodriguez added. “There’s no question. Good idea by Kevin.”

While Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said earlier this week that the injury will likely linger into the postseason, anything that can help take pressure off the thumb is a very good thing. As of now, Yankees manager Joe Girardi hopes to have Rodriguez back in the lineup at third base on Saturday.

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.