Jake Westbrook “ready to go” in case Cardinals need him

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Jake Westbrook was left off the Cardinals’ playoff roster for the NLDS and NLCS, but the veteran right-hander is continuing to throw on the side in case he’s needed as an injury replacement.

Westbrook threw a 49-pitch simulated game yesterday, telling reporters afterward: “I’m ready to go, without a doubt. I feel strong in saying that, especially the way today went.”

Westbrook logged 175 innings with a 3.97 ERA during the regular season and worse pitchers have started games in this year’s playoffs, but he hasn’t seen game action since suffering a strained oblique muscle on September 8.

When the Cardinals needed an injury replacement for Jaime Garcia they chose rookie Shelby Miller, but Westbrook is in the mix in case St. Louis advances past San Francisco and wants to adjust the roster for the World Series.

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.