Must-click link: Meet Evan Gattis, who has lived a hell of a life so far

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The Braves have a catching prospect named Evan Gattis. He turned heads by hitting .322/.386/.601 and socking 22 homers in a mere 377 plate appearances in the Sally League last year at the age of 24.

Your first thought may be “well, yeah, but 24 is pretty old for the Sally League.”  That’s true. Which means that you can’t necessarily say that Gattis is some uber-prospect.

But it is interesting to hear why, at 24, he was only in the Sally League.  Turns out he has had one hell of a journey in his life these past several years, and today Dave O’Brien of the AJC has his story:

Eight years ago, James Evan Gattis was a burly power hitter coming out of high school in Forney, Texas. He signed with Texas A&M, but never made it to College Station.

Instead he went to drug rehab for 30 days. Then a halfway house for three months. After a brief baseball career at an Oklahoma junior college, he dropped out and tried to tune in or turn on to something, anything that might give him some clarity.

His life began to resemble a Jack Kerouac novel mixed with new age spiritualism wherever he could find it. He traveled the western United States, stopping for a few months here and there, working jobs ranging from ski-lift operator to janitor.

It’s a great read, and he seems like a neat guy.

Though really, he reminds me less of Kerouac — or whatever we’ve come to think of as that which Kerouac represented — and more of James Ellroy.  Someone who, unlike most other people who spend time in the wilderness of drugs and aimlessness, actually find a way out and succeed in the world they should have entered years before.

Such a thing is a romantic notion, but man is it rare.  Once lives are derailed, they tend to say that way.

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.