Jim Wynn — the Astros’ first star — dies at 78

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Jim Wynn, the first big league star in Houston, passed away yesterday at 78 years-old. He had been in failing health for the past several years.

Wynn was nicknamed “The Toy Cannon” due to the fact that, while he was only 5’9″ and was slight of build, he hit monster home runs that even the cavernous Astrodome could not hold. He debuted with the Houston Colt .45s in 1963 and stayed with the franchise for 11 seasons. During that time he set nearly every single Astros batting record, with a line of .255/.362/.445 with 223 homers and 719 runs batted in. A patient hitter, he led the National League in walks with 148 free passes in 1969, on the way to an OPS+ of 166 and 7.1 WAR. He hit 37 homers and drove in 137 in 1967, both astounding totals given how pitcher-friendly his home ballpark was.

His long homers were the stuff of legend. On June 10, 1967 the Cincinnati native hit one completely out of Cincinnati’s Crosley Field, over the scoreboard in left-center and onto the highway outside of the stadium. On April 12, 1970 he became the first player to hit a home run into the upper deck of the Astrodome, sending a Phil Niekro knuckleball more than 500 feet down the left-field line.

Wynn’s time in Houston would end after the 1973 season when he was traded to the Dodgers for pitcher Claude Osteen and a minor leaguer. He would have a fantastic 1974 season in Los Angeles — by WAR it was his best, at 7.7 — hitting .271/.387/.497 with 32 homers and 108 RBI, helping lead the Dodgers to the NL pennant. He’d play one more year with the Dodgers before making stops with the Braves, Brewers and Yankees and calling it a career after 15 seasons in the bigs.

Wynn’s No. 24 jersey was retired by the Astros on June 25, 2005, and he was inducted into the inaugural class of the Astros Hall of Fame on August 3, 2019. He had been an Astros employee for several years.

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.