Rays announce minor-league deal with Hideki Matsui

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Tampa Bay has finally made official what was reported last week, announcing a minor-league contract with Hideki Matsui.

Why the signing was delayed for a week is unclear, but Matsui was never going to immediately join the Rays anyway.

Instead he’ll head to Triple-A, where the Rays will evaluate whether the 38-year-old has anything left in the tank and wait to see if they even need help at designated hitter or left field. Right now Luke Scott is slugging .610 as their primary DH and there’s certainly no room for Matsui in the Desmond Jennings-B.J. Upton-Matt Joyce outfield.

After posting an OPS above .775 in each of his first eight seasons Matsui hit just .251 with 12 homers and a .696 OPS in 141 games for the A’s last year, topping a .700 OPS in just one month.

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.