Derrek Lee takes batting practice for first time since thumb surgery

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Derrek Lee took live batting practice yesterday for the first time since undergoing surgery to repair a torn ligament in his thumb in November, according to Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun.

“A lot of nerves,” Lee said. “I’ve never had surgery. I didn’t know how it was going to respond. I was a little anxious about it. I got a lot of work to do, but it’s a good first step.”

Lee initially planned to take some swings today if he felt well enough, but Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com reports this morning that he’ll take the day off because his surgically-repaired thumb felt “a little bit tender.” The veteran first baseman downplayed the situation, saying that it was “probably as expected” and that they were simply being “overly cautious.” He’ll try to take batting practice again tomorrow.

As for when Lee will make his first appearance in an exhibition game, Orioles manager Buck Showalter has already ruled him out for the first week of the Grapefruit League schedule.

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

Minnesota Twis v Kansas City Royals
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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.