Dusty Baker will not return as Nationals manager

Dusty Baker
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The Washington Nationals just announced that Dusty Baker will not return as the club’s manager in 2018.

Baker led the Nationals to a record of 192-132 and two National League East titles in his two seasons as manager. He also seemed to be the preferred choice of General Manager Mike Rizzo. Indeed, Bob Nightengale of USA Today says that Baker’s dismissal comes against Rizzo’s wishes.

It’s just the latest of a series of firings of Baker following a run of undeniable on-filed success. Baker took over a Nats team that was underachieving and roiled by clubhouse acrimony and won 95 and 97 games in his two seasons. Before that he took a long suffering Cincinnati Reds team to three 90+ win seasons and three playoff appearances in six seasons. He spent 2014 and 2015 out of baseball, in fact, as clubs found it preferable to hire men with no coaching or managerial experience. Indeed, when the Nats hired him, it came as something of a surprise.

The Nationals exited in the first round of the postseason both this year and last, so one might argue that Baker, somehow, was unable to take them to the next level and that someone new is required. Such arguments, however, would be pretty daft given the random nature of short postseason series and the fact that Baker was not the guy holding a bat or throwing a ball in those postseason losses. Indeed, the Nationals have made the postseason with three different managers and neither of the other two made it out of the Division Series either.

In light of that, how this falls on Baker I have no idea. I would hope and expect team ownership to explain why it does.

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.