Rick Ankiel welcomed back to Nats on minor league deal

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Amanda Comack of the Washington Post reports that the Nationals have re-signed outfielder Rick Ankiel to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Ankiel, 32, batted just .239/.296/.363 with nine home runs and 37 RBI in 415 plate appearances last season for Washington. He has one of the best outfield arms in baseball, but the former left-handed starter has struggled offensively since posting 25 homers and an .843 OPS with the Cardinals in 2008.

Ankiel will compete for center field duties in camp this spring with Roger Bernadina and Mike Cameron. The Nationals have been trying to find a long-term fix in center for the past couple of years, but they’ll continue to go with patchwork options for now.

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.