Oscar Taveras feels “100 percent”

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Cardinals top outfield prospect Oscar Taveras was supposed to arrive in the major leagues by the middle of the 2013 season, but he suffered a severe high right ankle sprain last May and eventually needed surgery to repair the damage. He wound up appearing in just 46 games for the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds and was shut down for good in August.

Now, of course, the focus shifts to the 2014 campaign. And the 21-year-old hard-swinging Dominican is hoping that this will finally be his breakthrough summer. Taveras spoke Saturday to fans and media at the Cardinals’ annual Winter Warmup in downtown St. Louis. Via MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch:

“With the work that I’ve done this week and what I’ve done at home with the trainer, I feel 100 percent,” Taveras said through interpreter Marissa Diaz, a member of the Cardinals’ community-relations department. “In spring training, I hope to get stronger and be back with the team. … I’ve been working really hard with my ankle. Physically, I feel prepared. I feel good. Last year was off because of the ankle. I felt bad because I wasn’t on the team. But I was watching the team, watching my friends play hard. That got my spirits up to work hard this year. If God has it, I will be on the team this year in 2014.”

Taveras is a .320/.377/.518 career hitter in over 1,500 minor league plate appearances. With experience at all three outfield spots, he’ll be in consideration for an Opening Day roster spot this spring in Cardinals camp.

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.