Former Braves, Cubs OF Dwight Smith dies at 58

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ATLANTA — Dwight Smith, a runner-up for NL rookie of the year who played on Atlanta’s World Series-winning team in 1995, died Friday, the Braves announced. He was 58.

The Braves said the former outfielder and pinch-hitting specialist died of congestive heart and lung failure. He lived in suburban Peachtree City, about 30 miles south of Atlanta.

Smith played in the big leagues for eight years, starting out with the Chicago Cubs, splitting a season between the Angels and Baltimore Orioles before joining the Braves for his final two seasons.

His son, Dwight Jr., has also spent time in majors, most recently with Baltimore in 2020.

The elder Smith served mostly as a pinch-hitter with the Braves in 1995, hitting .252 with three homers and 21 RBIs in 103 games.

Atlanta defeated Cleveland in six games to win the World Series. with Smith appearing three times as a pinch-hitter. He went 1 for 2 with a walk.

In a statement, the Braves called Smith “an integral member” of their first Atlanta championship team.

“Dwight was also a beloved alumni member, and his infectious smile will be missed around Truist Park,” the team added.

Smith played one more season with the Braves to close out his career. He batted just .203 with three homers and 16 RBIs in 101 games. He did not appear in the postseason as Atlanta again reached the World Series, losing to the New York Yankees.

Smith had his best season as a rookie with the Cubs in 1989, batting .324 with nine homers and 52 RBIs to help Chicago win the NL East. He was runner-up to teammate Jerome Walton for rookie of the year.

“We are saddened to learn of the death of Dwight Smith and send our condolences,” the Cubs tweeted.

After five seasons with the Cubs, Smith signed with the Angels as a free agent in 1994. He was traded to Baltimore during the strike-shortened season, then moved on the Braves the following year.

Smith was survived by his wife Cheryl, Dwight Jr., and daughters Taylor and Shannyn.

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.