Joey Votto gets first day off since September 2016

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Reds first baseman Joey Votto is not in the lineup for Thursday night’s series opener against the Cardinals in St. Louis. Nothing is wrong with Votto; manager Bryan Price just wants to give the veteran a day off, per C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic.

This marks Votto’s first day off since September 2, 2016. Votto started in all 162 games last season as well as the first 11 games of this season. In total, he started 202 consecutive games. It’s not quite Cal Ripken, Jr.’s streak, but impressive nevertheless.

Votto, 34, is batting .273/.313/.273 with zero extra-base hits and three RBI in 48 plate appearances this season. Perhaps the day off will help Votto’s bat to come around.

Adam Duvall is starting at first base in Votto’s place for the 2-9 Reds on Thursday.

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.