Sean Kazmar makes it back to majors after 13-year absence

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CHICAGO — Sean Kazmar Jr. returned to the major leagues after an 13-year absence, pinch hitting for the Atlanta Braves and grounding into a double play on Saturday against the Chicago Cubs.

The 36-year-old infielder’s contract was selected by the Braves from their alternate training site before the game. He pinch hit in the fifth inning grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.

Kazmar had not played in the major leagues on Sept. 23, 2008, with the San Diego Padres. He appeared in 19 games that season for his only previous major league action, and had since played in Triple-A for the Padres, Seattle Mariners, New York Mets and Braves, plus Double-A for the Mets – a total of 1,106 minor league games,

“That was probably one of the greatest moments I’ve had as a manager at all the levels, quite honestly,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of informing Kazmar of his return. “It’s amazing. You go from ’08 to 2021, in between, you’ve got to be kidding me, to have the perseverance and the dedication and the drive.”

The gap between big league appearances was the greatest since that of right-hander Ralph Winegarner, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Winegarner played on June 23, 1936, for the Cleveland Indians and did not return to the majors until July 7, 1949, with the St. Louis Browns- a span of 13 years, 14 days.

The Braves also placed left-hander Jesse Biddle on the active roster, recalled right-handed pitcher Bryse Wilson, placed left-hander Sean Newcomb on the injured list, and put outfielder Ender Inciarte on the 10-day injured list with a strained left hamstring on Saturday morning before their game against the Chicago Cubs.

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.