Dirk Hayhurst to play ball in Italy this year

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Dirk Hayhurst, author of “The Bullpen Gospels” and the upcoming “Out of my League,” is a personal favorite of mine. Yes, because of the books, but also because he lives in Ohio and I got to meet him last fall and I found that he is just as neat a guy in person as he is in print and on Twitter and stuff.

Anyone who has paid attention to his career since his first book came out knows that, after 25 major league games in 2008-09, he was first beset with injury and then, last year, was beset with being part of the Tampa Bay Rays organization which, unfortunately for Hayhurst, had way damn too many good pitchers.

It might be easy to get discouraged if you’re a guy like Hayhurst, but he’s not doing that.  No, rather than get upset at a system that is, by design, almost impossible to crack, he has decided to view his baseball career as an opportunity to experience neat stuff.  He just announced on Twitter that he’ll be playing baseball in Italy in 2012.

He was already considering this possibility when I met him in September, and what he told me about it made it sound pretty sweet. It’s a relatively short season with games mostly on weekends, allowing players a lot of time to travel around and see the sights.  He’s taking his wife with him, so he won’t be stuck in some minor league town talking to her on the phone all the time.  And, of course, Italy is way cool.

Bonus: I’m guessing the Italian league won’t get nearly as bent out of shape at Hayhurst for blogging about what goes on inside their clubhouses as U.S. baseball does, so we can probably assume that he’ll be writing an awful lot about his experiences.  Which, given that his writing — sorry Dirk — has been more successful than his baseball career in many respects, is probably a good thing for him as he thinks about what the rest of his playing days and then the rest of his life hold in store for him.

Good luck, Dirk.  I know it will be hard to leave magical, beautiful Ohio for boring old Italy for the rest of the year, but I’m sure you’ll somehow find a way to make it work.

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.