Dusty Baker: “Will I have to spank [Bryce Harper] sometimes? Maybe.”

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Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper made yet more headlines on Monday night when he was thrown out of his team’s game against the Tigers in the bottom of the ninth inning by home plate umpire Brian Knight. As fate would have it, Clint Robinson immediately drilled a walk-off home run. As he ran onto the field to celebrate with his teammates, Harper appeared to shout “F— you!” at Knight.

Harper, the defending NL MVP, has seemed to embrace his role as someone people love to hate. He was featured in an ESPN the Magazine article before the start of the season in which he lamented how baseball stifles younger players’ ability to express themselves. Hall of Famer Goose Gossage and Giants reliever Sergio Romo were two of many who excoriated Harper for the remarks. Teammate Jonathan Papelbon choked Harper in the dugout at the end of last season because he didn’t like Harper’s lack of effort.

Will veteran manager Dusty Baker, in his first year with the Nationals, have to keep Harper in line? It sounds like it. Via Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post, Baker said he doesn’t mind Harper’s emotion, but added, “Will I have to spank him sometimes? Maybe.”

Certainly, Baker was speaking metaphorically. But someone, somewhere is cooking up some spicy slash fiction with that imagery.

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.