Matt Holliday rejoins the Cardinals after six-week absence, Randal Grichuk moves to center field

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Matt Holliday has missed the past six weeks–including the All-Star game–with a strained quadriceps muscle, but the Cardinals left fielder is off the disabled list and back in the starting lineup tonight.

Holliday was having a very good season before the injury, hitting .303 with an .839 OPS in 52 games, but the Cardinals got excellent fill-in work from rookie Randal Grichuk in left field. Grichuk, who’ll turn 24 years old next month, has hit .277 with an .853 OPS in 59 games overall this season.

It’ll be interesting to see how manager Mike Matheny divvies up the playing time now that Holliday is back in the mix. Grichuk can play center field, allowing the Cardinals to keep him in the lineup alongside Holliday and right fielder Jason Heyward, which is exactly what Matheny is doing tonight. Light-hitting, good-fielding Peter Bourjos is on the bench.

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.