Scott Baker sent for precautionary MRI on right elbow

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The Cubs have been aiming for right-hander Scott Baker to join their rotation at some point in April, but after a bumpy Cactus League debut yesterday, he’s now being sent for an MRI on his surgically-repaired right elbow.

Baker, who is currently working his way back from Tommy John surgery, gave up three hits — including a three-run homer to Chris Young — and two walks while retiring only one batter yesterday against the Athletics. He woke up this morning with some soreness in the elbow, so Cubs manager Dale Sveum told MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat they just want to rule out anything serious.

“He came in today kind of sore in the [elbow] so we’re going to do an MRI today,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Monday. “[Tuesday] morning, he could come in with no symptoms at all, and it [could’ve been] normal type feeling that other people get who didn’t have Tommy John surgery.”

Baker, 31, joined the Cubs over the winter on a one-year, $5.5 million deal and could make an additional $1.5 million with incentives. With Matt Garza also DL-bound to begin the season, the Cubs are set to go with Jeff Samardzija, Edwin Jackson, Scott Feldman, Travis Wood and Carlos Villanueva in their starting rotation.

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.