Cardinals considering “Plan B” options in case Carpenter misses the start of the season

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Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak spoke to ESPN 101’s Brian Stull on Sunday morning about Chris Carpenter’s neck injury, which has been officially diagnosed as a bulging cervical disc.

Mozeliak didn’t get into many specifics about the diagnosis nor did he speak about a recovery timetable for the 36-year-old right-hander, but he did admit there is an awareness in the organization that a backup plan will be needed if Carpenter is forced to miss the first few weeks of the regular season.

“Internally, we’ve discussed it,” said Mozeliak. “We definitely think we need to implement that Plan B so I think over this week you’ll see someone start to stretch out a little bit.”

Lance Lynn was a starter in the minors and could get consideration. Kyle McClellan is another option, as is lefty Marc Rzepczynski, a former starter in the Blue Jays’ system. The Cardinals also have one of the top pitching prospects in baseball in Shelby Miller, though the plan right now is for him to open in Triple-A.

Free agent right-hander Roy Oswalt seems set on waiting until the middle of the season to join a team, but the St. Louis front office did make an offer to him at one point this winter.

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.