Benches clear between Cubs, Pirates after Joe Musgrove slides into Javier Báez

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Things have been tense during this series in Pittsburgh between the Cubs and Pirates. Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo took a lot of heat after he made a controversial slide into catcher Elias Diaz at home plate. The umpires ruled that Rizzo’s slide was clean, but the next day, Major League Baseball said that the slide was not, in fact, legal.

Tuesday’s game was uneventful, even though there were some hit batters. Nick Kingham hit Willson Contreras, Jon Lester hit Kingham, and Michael Feliz hit Contreras. There didn’t seem to be any malice behind any of those hit batters.

The two sides got feisty on Wednesday. In the bottom of the third inning, starter Joe Musgrove stood on first base after hitting a leadoff single. Josh Harrison then hit a grounder to third baseman Kris Bryant, who fired to Javier Báez at second base. Musgrove slid into second base and his momentum took him into Báez, who held onto the ball. Given Harrison’s speed, Báez almost certainly wouldn’t have been able to make the throw in time to complete the double play, but the slide made it impossible.

As Musgrove walked off the field, Báez had a few words for him. Musgrove turned back and then the benches and bullpens emptied onto the field. No punches were thrown and order was quickly restored. Musgrove’s slide was deemed legal.

Wednesday marks the end of the series between the two clubs, but they meet again for a three-game set in Chicago June 8-10. It will be interesting to see if the bad blood carries over a week and a half.

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.