Miguel Cabrera speaks out about threats against his family in Venezuela

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Venezuela is in crisis. It’s a complicated crisis, beyond our scope of discussion here, but it’s one that has a direct impact on baseball by virtue of so many professional baseball players coming from there and having family there.

Venezuela had already long been a dangerous place for ballplayers and their family. Rays catcher Wilson Ramos was famously kidnapped a few years ago and other players have had relatives kidnapped and held for ransom as well. The players are often largely powerless to do anything about while they’re here, thousands of miles away. Many have decided to relocate their families entirely, forcing them to leave the only country they’ve ever called home.

The recent strife, which has led to economic collapse and a nearly wholesale breakdown of order in the country, has exacerbated the situation. And baseball’s most prominent Venezuelan native is speaking out about it.

As Evan Woodbery of MLive.com reports, Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera posted a series of videos to the “stories” section of his Instagram account, blasting the corruption of Venezuela’s government, voicing his support for protesters and speaking of threats against his family that require him to pay protection money:

“If I go to Venezuela ‘they’ll break me, they’ll kill me'”

“I’m tired of paying protection money so they don’t kidnap my mother”

“I protest for truth, for the end of communism, and I am not with dictators . . . To the people of the resistance, you are not alone.”

Cabrera, like most Venezuelan players, has not historically been vocal about politics in his home country. But with economic collapse and lawlessness brought on by a corrupt dictatorship, he is understandably at his breaking point.

Some have noted that Cabrera is having what is, for him anyway, a down year. Most of us think about whether he’s healthy or if, at 34, the years are catching up to him. Rarely do we stop to think, however, how hard it must be for him and other players in his situation to concentrate on a baseball game.

Here’s hoping there is an end to the crisis in Venezuela soon. Here’s hoping that Cabrera and other players with families in harm’s way are able to find peace and safety soon as well.

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.