Miguel Cabrera exits game with lower back tightness

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Tigers’ first baseman Miguel Cabrera left Saturday’s game with another case of lower back tightness, the team announced. It’s the fifth time the veteran slugger has been sidelined with back pain this season and very well could be the last, though he’s expected to be day-to-day for the time being.

Cabrera lasted just four innings against the White Sox, going 0-for-2 before he was pulled prior to the start of the fifth inning. No specific event appeared to trigger the injury, but he was left flailing at the plate against right-hander Reynaldo Lopez and went 0-for-2 before John Hicks relieved him in the top of the fifth inning. Hicks, meanwhile, collected a single in his first at-bat of the night and was left stranded after Lopez induced back-to-back outs from Nicholas Castellanos and Jeimer Candelario.

It’s been a rough season for Cabrera and doesn’t figure to get any easier as the regular season winds down. He’s batting .249/.331/.404 with 16 home runs and a .734 OPS after missing 44 days to various injuries and another six days to a lengthy suspension for participating in the Yankees-Tigers brawl last month. While the severity of his most recent injury remains to be determined, it’s not preposterous to suggest that he might not return to the field in 2017. The last time he was derailed with a back injury, he missed a full 18 days without landing on the DL. The Tigers don’t have that kind of time at this point in the year, and a playoff run is well out of reach thanks to the Indians’ 22-game surge.

Back in August, club manager Brad Ausmus pointed out that Cabrera’s lingering health issues would likely be an ongoing problem, especially with no clear root cause and no clear path to an effective treatment. “Quite frankly, I think he’s going to have to deal with it the rest of his career,” he told reporters. So far, that prediction doesn’t seem to be off the mark.

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.