Mike Matheny will manage Thursday against a pitcher he coached at a St. Louis high school

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Before Mike Matheny was named manager of the Cardinals, he spent a few years as a part-time assistant baseball coach at a high school in St. Louis called Westminster Christian Academy.

In 2009, Matheny offered tips and advice to an 18-year-old right-hander on the Westminster varsity team named Jacob Turner. And now the two will meet again on a Major League Baseball diamond.

Turner — a first-round pick of the Tigers in the ’09 amateur draft and currently 21 years of age — will be on the mound in Thursday’s series-finale against the Cardinals, a team he grew up rooting for now being managed by one of his mentors.

“He’s a special person,” Turner told John Lowe of the Detroit Press when asked Wednesday about the role Matheny played in his young-adult life, “Obviously, I feel like he helped me a lot.”

Matheny has often featured multiple bench guys in day games, but he has the big guns out for Turner. Rafael Furcal bats leadoff, followed by Skip Schumaker, Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran, Allen Craig, Yadier Molina, David Freese, Matt Adams and Daniel Descalso. It’s MLB.TV’s Free Game of the Day.

Turner will be making his 2012 debut. He was promoted Thursday morning after posting a 3.43 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 27/19 K/BB ratio in 42 innings for the Tigers’ Triple-A affiliate in Toledo, Ohio.

Rays’ Erik Neander named Executive of the Year

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At the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona on Monday, Rays GM Erik Neander was named the recipient of Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year Award for the 2019 season. The Yankees’ Brian Cashman was the runner-up while the Athletics’ Billy Beane and the Twins’ Derek Falvey tied for third place.

Neander has worked for the Rays since 2017 but has operated in his current role since November 2016, taking over for Matthew Silverman who was promoted to president of the Rays alongside Brian Auld.

The Rays had, by far, the lowest payroll in baseball at $53.5 million, according to USA TODAY. Neander’s peers voting him Executive of the Year on the same today the league had to curtail its awarding of a prize belt to the team that suppressed salaries the most in arbitration is… certainly interesting timing.

At any rate, Neander’s Rays went 96-66 in 2019, finishing in second place in the AL East behind the 103-59 Yankees. The Rays claimed the second AL Wild Card and defeated the A’s to earn entry into the ALDS where they lost in five games to the Astros. It was the Rays’ first playoff appearance since 2013 and their regular season win total was second-most in franchise history behind the 2008 team (97).