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Indians manager Terry Francona is confident he’ll return next season after missing most of the past two because of serious health issues.

Francona was forced to step away from the club in late July to undergo hip replacement surgery as well as a procedure on a big toe that was partially removed last winter after it became infected.

The 62-year-old remains on crutches and has an important medical checkup scheduled for next week. Francona said the visit could determine whether he’s able to return to managing the way he wants.

“That’s a big appointment by the doctor’s admission,” he said Wednesday on a Zoom call with team president Chris Antonetti and general manager Mike Chernoff. “We get through that day and things should be OK.

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“Barring anything unforeseen, I’d really like to come back and be healthy enough to embrace what the job entails and go through it with people that I enjoy and respect.”

Francona detailed some of his struggles in 2021 when he was forced to wear a walking boot that inhibited his ability to get around.

“This year was hard,” he said. “Everything was hard. Whether it was getting to the dugout, or taking a pitcher out. It kind of wore me down. I felt like I wasn’t able to do my job appropriately.”

When the discomfort became too much, Francona opted to leave the team and have the operations and get a jump start on rehab with the goal of returning in 2022, when Cleveland’s team will be called the Guardians.

Francona said his hip surgery was “a piece of cake” compared to the operation on his toe.

Padres fire manager Jayce Tingler

The San Diego Padres have fired Jayce Tingler, who presided over the biggest collapse in franchise history just a season after finishing second in voting for NL Manager of the Year.

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General manager A.J. Preller announced the move three days after the Padres finished 79-83 and in third place in the NL West, 28 games behind San Francisco. Preller said Tingler will be given the opportunity to remain in the organization.

Jayce Tingler led the Padres to a 79-83 record this past season.
Jayce Tingler led the Padres to a 79-83 record this past season.Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

Tingler’s fate was sealed during a brutal freefall that saw the Padres go from a one-game lead for the NL’s second wild-card spot on Sept. 9 to being eliminated from playoff contention with seven games left. The Padres clinched their 10th losing record in 11 seasons.

Tingler was 116-106 overall in two seasons.

Tingler had no previous managerial experience above rookie-level ball and stints in various Dominican leagues before being hired on Oct. 28, 2019, by Preller, a friend from their time together in the Texas Rangers organization.

Twins reassign hitting coach

The Minnesota Twins reassigned hitting coach Edgar Varela to a minor league role and now have three openings to fill on manager Rocco Baldelli’s staff.

Varela held the position for two seasons. He was the club’s minor league field coordinator for two years prior to that. The Twins ranked 14th in baseball in runs in 2021 and 18th in 2020, after scoring the second most in 2019. Rudy Hernandez, who also has the title of hitting coach, remains in his role.

Kevin Morgan, who was added as a major league field coordinator just before the season following the death of bench coach Mike Bell, was also reassigned to a minor league role. Bill Evers, who held the title of major league coach, has retired.

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Only four of the eight uniformed assistants returning for 2022 have been with Baldelli since he was hired for the 2019 season.

Dodgers leave Walker Buehler off wild-card roster

Pitcher Walker Buehler was left off the Dodgers’ roster for their one-game wild-card playoff against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The move was expected because Buehler pitched five innings in Sunday’s regular-season finale. He would start Friday in Game 1 of the NL Division Series if the Dodgers advance.

Walker Buehler wasn't available for Wednesday's Wild Card contest.
Walker Buehler wasn't available for Wednesday's Wild Card contest.Alex Gallardo/Associated Press

Julio Urías could be used in relief against the Cardinals. He would start Game 2 of the NLDS on Saturday. The left-hander won his major league-leading 20th game of the season last weekend.

The Dodgers are carried 10 pitchers and 16 position players against the Cardinals. Pitcher Clayton Kershaw and infielder Max Muncy are injured.

Manager Dave Roberts said the team is holding out hope that Muncy could rejoin it later in the postseason because his dislocated left elbow doesn’t require surgery. Roberts confirmed Kershaw is done for the season, although he doesn’t have any ligament damage in his left throwing arm and won’t require Tommy John surgery.

Los Angeles added infielder/outfielders Billy McKinney and Zach McKinstry, and outfielders Luke Raley and Steven Souza Jr. to the roster.

The Cardinals left pitchers Jon Lester and J.A. Happ off their roster.