Aaron Boone back on bench 3 days after pacemaker inserted

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone returned to the dugout three days after surgery to have a pacemaker inserted.

“It felt good just to be at the ballfield again, competing with the guys,” he said after managing New York’s 3-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Boone, who turns 48 in a few days, left the club to get the pacemaker at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, Florida. He returned to camp after clearing COVID-19 protocols and said he feels great – especially so when he watched ace Gerrit Cole cruise through a simulated game at the team’s spring training facility in Tampa.

“Good to come watch Gerrit Cole pitch,” Boone said with a grin. “That’s a good way to get back into it.”

Boone – who says his only restriction is he can’t raise his left hand over his head for about a month – then joined the team in nearby Bradenton for a rain-delayed exhibition game against the Pirates.

“I was shocked to see him today,” said right-hander Jameson Taillon, who started against Pittsburgh. “I was really happy to see him here. I know he went and saw Gerrit’s sim game and then came here for the game to manage today. That’s a full day for a first day back.

“Obviously, anytime you bring up the heart, it’s scary, but he seems to be in a great spot, in great spirits, and we’re happy to have him back.”

Boone had the pacemaker inserted after he was found to have a heart rate as low as 30-39 beats per minute, well below the 60-100 considered normal for adults. Boone, who had open heart surgery in 2009 for a congenital defect, had been experiencing light-headedness and fatigue this winter.

Taillon struck out four over two scoreless innings. Jay Bruce and Clint Frazier homered for the Yankees, and Thairo Estrada had the club’s two other hits.

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.