Chris Sale says Tony Gwynn’s death saved his life

Associated Press
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SAN DIEGO — During this morning’s press conference announcing the starting lineups, a local reporter asked the managers and starting pitchers how local legend Tony Gwynn impacted them. For his part, Ned Yost told a funny story about how, back when he was coaching the Braves, Bobby Cox and the best pitching staff of the decade had no idea how to get Gwynn out so they eventually just suggested throwing the ball down the middle to see what happened. That didn’t work either. Gwynn could hit a little bit.

American League starter Chris Sale had a more poignant comment. He said that Tony Gwynn saved his life. He did so by virtue of his death. Sale was a long time smokeless tobacco user. He quit, however, on June 16, 2014. That was the day Tony Gwynn died or oral cancer. Sale said that he has not touched the stuff since and that that “to say that he saved my life, I don’t think it’s an understatement.”

As we’ve noted in the past, it’s quite possible and likely probable that Gwynn’s heavy smokeless tobacco use did not, in fact, cause the cancer that killed him. Gwynn believed it did, however, and his death has become perhaps the biggest symbol of the perils of smokeless tobacco in and around baseball. That there may not have been an actual link between it and his death is sort of beside the point, especially given that even if it did not cause his cancer, it’s clearly a dangerous and deadly habit.

Tony Gwynn was a hero to many and an inspiration to many more. Regardless of the medical science at play, if his example, negative or otherwise, has inspired people to quit a terrible habit, he’s continuing to do good from Baseball Valhalla.

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.