Braves activate Jason Heyward from 15-day disabled list

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Jason Heyward didn’t push it and try to return for the All-Star Game, but he is in Thursday’s lineup as the right fielder against the Brewers.
Heyward, who was sidelined with a bone bruise in his left thumb, will hit second between Martin Prado and Chipper Jones tonight. It had turned into his usual spot before he went on the DL, but because the thumb injury had been affecting his play for so long, he’s batted just .236/.333/.374 in 30 games as a No. 2 hitter.
Thursday’s game will also mark the Braves debut of shortstop Alex Gonzalez. Even though he’s a very different hitter than the man he’s replacing, Yunel Escobar, he’ll hit in the same spot in the order initially: seventh.

Royals fire manager Mike Matheny after 65-97 end to season

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred were fired by the Kansas Cty Royals on Wednesday night, shortly after the struggling franchise finished the season 65-97 with a listless 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians.

The Royals had exercised their option on Matheny’s contract for 2023 during spring training, when the club hoped it was turning the corner from also-ran to contender again. But plagued by poor pitching, struggles from young position players and failed experiments with veterans, the Royals were largely out of playoff contention by the middle of summer.

The disappointing product led owner John Sherman last month to fire longtime front office executive Dayton Moore, the architect of back-to-back American League champions and the 2015 World Series title team. Moore was replaced by one of his longtime understudies, J.J. Picollo, who made the decision to fire Matheny hours after the season ended.

Matheny became the fifth big league manager to be fired this year.

Philadelphia’s Joe Girardi was replaced on June 3 by Rob Thomson, who engineered a miraculous turnaround to get the Phillies into the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Angels replaced Joe Maddon with Phil Nevin four days later, Toronto’s Charlie Montoyo was succeeded by John Schneider on July 13 and the Rangers’ Chris Woodward by Tony Beasley on Aug. 15.

In addition, Miami’s Don Mattingly said late last month that he will not return next season.