Struggling Michael Cuddyer expects to deal with knee injury for the rest of the season

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After signing a two-year, $21 million contract with the Mets over the winter, Michael Cuddyer struggled to the tune of a .244/.294/.367 batting line during the first half while dealing with a nagging injury to his left knee. The All-Star break gave the 36-year-old some time to rest, but he’s being benched in favor of Kirk Nieuwenhuis tonight against the Cardinals. And his outlook for the second half doesn’t sound particularly promising.

Cuddyer is healthy enough to remain on the active roster, but it’s not like he has done much good when he’s in the lineup on a regular basis, so he’s at risk for falling into a part-time role at the very least. This approach might help him manage the injury and be more productive when he does play, but it’s not exactly what the Mets had in mind when they gave up a first-round pick to sign him over the winter.

While Nieuwenhuis hit three home runs in the final game before the All-Star break, he can’t be considered a legitimate answer for a corner outfield spot. The Mets are right in the thick of things for a chance to make the postseason, so it will be interesting to see if they finally answer the fans’ pleas to acquire a big bat in a trade leading up to July 31. Promoting prospect Michael Conforto is another possibility, though the team appears against that idea for now.

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.