David Ortiz could be ready for minor league games soon

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David Ortiz will begin the season on the disabled list as he works his way back from pain in both of his heels, but he’s inching closer to returning to game action.

According to Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe, Red Sox manager John Farrell said today that Ortiz will travel with the team to New York to continue his rehab before returning to Fort Myers for the week of April 8. The hope is that he’ll make enough progress by then to be ready to take live batting practice or play in minor league games.

Ortiz’s running program remains a work in progress, as he’s currently limited to straight-ahead running and agility drills. He’ll need to start making cuts and running the bases before being cleared for an official minor league rehab assignment.

Until Ortiz is ready to return, the Red Sox are expected to go with Jonny Gomes as their primary designated hitter and rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. as their starting left fielder.

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.