Pitchers Nathan Eovaldi and Garrett Whitlock set to rejoin Red Sox

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Boston Red Sox are set to get pitching reinforcements for their weekend series at the New York Yankees with the expected return of starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi and reliever Garrett Whitlock from the injured list.

Boston manager Alex Cora also hasn’t ruled out second baseman Trevor Story from playing. Story left Tuesday night’s game at Tampa Bay with a bruised right hand after getting hit while swinging at a Corey Kluber pitch.

Cora said it is “most likely” that Eovaldi, out since June 9 with lower back inflammation, will start the series opener at Yankee Stadium. The right-hander is 4-2 with a 3.16 ERA in 12 starts.

Whitlock, sidelined since June 9 by right hip inflammation, is 2-1 with a 3.51 ERA over 13 games, including nine starts.

Chris Sale, who worked five scoreless innings Tuesday night in his season debut after being sidelined by a fractured rib, had his between-starts bullpen session Thursday and is lined up to start the final game before the All-Star break on Sunday.

Two other injured starters, Rich Hill (left knee sprain) and Michael Wacha (right shoulder inflammation) are throwing off a bullpen mound. Hill had a 25-pitch session Thursday.

Cora said right-hander Josh Winckowski tested positive for COVID-19 after allowing three runs over six innings in Wednesday night’s 4-1 loss to the Rays. Winckowski, who is vaccinated, was placed on the COVID-related IL.

Left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez was recalled from Triple-A Worcester.

Infielder-outfielder Kike Hernandez (right hip flexor strain) was scheduled to see a specialist Thursday. He had his rehab assignment ended earlier this week.

The status of reliever Matt Strahm for the Yankees series remains in limbo. The lefty was struck on his pitching hand by Taylor Walls‘ single Tuesday night.

The Red Sox entered Thursday night’s game against the Rays with a 2-7 record over their previous nine games and in a three-way tie with Seattle and Toronto for the second AL wild card spot.

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.