Royals sign man believed to be the first player with autism in affiliated baseball

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Today the Royals signed outfielder Tarik El-Abour to a Minor League contract and assigned him to extended spring training. El-Abour is believed to be the first professional baseball player with autism to play affiliated ball.

As MLB.com reports, El-Abour played college baseball at Pasadena City College and Pacifica College and, after going un-drafted, signed with the Sullivan, New York team in the independent Empire League. He won the league’s Rookie of the Year award in 2016, hitting .323 in 122 plate appearances. Last year he hit .240 for the Plattsburgh Red Birds of the same league.

El-Abour came to the attention of the Royals via former big leaguer and former Royal Reggie Sanders, who, while working as an advisor for the club, founded an organization dedicated to empowering individuals with autism. El-Abour was invited to take batting practice with the club as part of the club’s Autism Awareness Night last year and the Royals have tracked him since. Today he joins affiliated ball.

A very big moment for those with autism and those who have loved ones with autism. A very big moment for the Royals. And, above all else, a very big moment for Tarik El-Albour.

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.