Wade Davis isn’t thrilled with the possibility of pitching out of the bullpen

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The Rays decided against cashing in on their starting pitching depth over the winter and will enter spring training with six realistic candidates for five spots. David Price, James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson and top prospect Matt Moore are essentially locks for the rotation at this point, which means Wade Davis will compete with Jeff Niemann for the final spot.

Davis, who posted a 4.45 ERA and 105/63 K/BB ratio over 184 innings last season, has never pitched in relief as a pro and told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times earlier today that he has no interest in doing so.

“I’m a starter,” he said. “I don’t see any reason for me to be in the bullpen. I understand they’ve got to do certain things, but we’ll see. … I definitely want to be a starter and stay a starter forever. And that’ll be my mentality.”

Niemann, who had a 4.06 ERA and 105/37 K/BB ratio across 135 1/3 innings, at least appeared to be more open to the possibility.

“Right now, I think we’ll just deal with that when we have to,” he said. “I’m just looking forward to going out there and building up (innings) the way we normally do it and see how things play out. It’s just an unknown, a definite unknown.”

Topkin notes that Davis “wouldn’t have much leverage to force a trade,” so the reality is that he’d have no choice but to accept a bullpen role if Niemann begins the year in the starting rotation.

Davis, 26, signed a four-year, $12.6 million extension with the Rays last season which will pay him $1.5 million this season, $2.8 million in 2013, $4.8 million in 2014 and includes club options for 2015 and 2016. Niemann, who turns 28 later this month, will make $2.75 million this season and remains under team control through 2014. Depth is certainly a nice luxury to have, but it’s unlikely the Rays will keep both pitchers for the long haul.

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.