Rafael Furcal ruled out for rest of season due to elbow injury

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Rafael Furcal is currently rehabbing a strained ligament in his right elbow. He was originally given a 4-6 week timetable, which left open the long shot possibility that he could return if club goes on another deep run in the postseason, but the Cardinals closed that window today.

According to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak has officially ruled Furcal out for the rest of the regular season and the playoffs.

Furcal received a platelet-rich plasma injection in his elbow on September 4, but has yet to resume throwing. Mozeliak still believes he’ll be able to avoid surgery, but said the clock simply “was not on our side” for him to contribute again this year. The 34-year-old shortstop batted .264 with five homers, 12 steals, and a .671 OPS in 121 games this season and is under contract for $7 million in 2013.

2007 first-round pick Pete Kozma has emerged as the starting shortstop in Furcal’s absence. The 24-year-old launched his first major league home run in yesterday’s win over the Cubs and has another one tonight against the Astros.

Bryce Harper will participate in the Home Run Derby if he makes the All-Star team

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Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.

Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.

Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.