New York Yankees Manager Aaron Boone  is taking a leave of absence from the team to get a pacemaker. He intends to return to work in a few days. Matt Slocum/Associated Press

NEW YORK — Yankees Manager Aaron Boone took a leave of absence from the team to get a pacemaker and intends to return to work in a few days.

The team said the procedure took place Wednesday at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, Florida, and went as expected.

“It sounds like it’s going to be a short-term thing,” GM Brian Cashman said. “I do applaud him for being very open and honest.”

Bench coach Carlos Mendoza took over as acting manager for Wednesday night’s exhibition against Toronto in Tampa.

Boone said in a statement the medical team is “confident that today’s surgery will allow me to resume all of my usual professional and personal activities and afford me a positive long-term health prognosis without having to change anything about my way of life. I look forward to getting back to work in the next several days.”

The 47-year-old is entering his fourth season as Yankees manager, and Cashman said Boone told him a few days ago he intended to have the pacemaker inserted whenever the surgery could be scheduled.

New York started the exhibition season Sunday, and Boone informed the Yankees’ staff from the hospital during a Zoom call Wednesday that he would have the procedure later in the day. Boone recorded a video that was given to players during a second Zoom.

“As many of you know, I underwent open-heart surgery in 2009, and I wanted everyone to understand where I’m at regarding the procedure that’s taking place today,” Boone said. “Over the last six to eight weeks I’ve had mild symptoms of lightheadedness, low energy and shortness of breath. As a result, I underwent a series of tests and examinations in New York prior to the beginning of spring training, including multiple visits with a team of heart specialists. While the heart checkup came back normal, there were indications of a low heart rate which, after further consultations with doctors in Tampa, necessitates a pacemaker.”

Boone said “my faith is strong, and my spirits are high. I’m in a great frame of mind.”

“During my short-term absence, I have complete trust that our coaches, staff and players will continue their training and preparation at the same level as we’ve had and without any interruption,” he said.

Boone played in the major leagues from 1997-2009 and was an All-Star for the Yankees in 2003, the year his 11th-inning home run off Boston’s Tim Wakefield in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series won the pennant for New York. He is a third generation major leaguer, whose grandfather Gus, father Bob and brother Bret also played in the big leagues and whose nephew Jake is a minor leaguer in the Washington organization.

A broadcaster for ESPN, Boone succeeded Joe Girardi as New York manager after the 2017 season. He has led the Yankees to a 236-148 record.

NATIONALS: Washington left-hander Jon Lester is leaving spring training camp to have surgery for the removal of his thyroid gland, Manager Dave Martinez said Wednesday.

Pitcher Jon Lester, who signed with ther Nationals in the offseason, left training camp to have surgery to remove his thyroid. Manager Dave Martinez hopes to have him back soon. Morry Gash/Associated Press

The 37-year-old Lester was to travel from West Palm Beach, Florida, to New York on Wednesday; the Nationals said the operation is planned for Friday.

“Hopefully he can pitch again in about a week,” Martinez said in a video conference with reporters before Washington’s exhibition game against the Miami Marlins. “We want him to get it taken care of now, so it’s not an issue.”

Martinez said the Nationals “still have plans, as of right now, that he will start the season with us on his scheduled day, but we’ll have to see — after this procedure’s done – how he’s feeling.”

In 2006, Lester’s rookie season with the Boston Red Sox ended early because he was diagnosed with a form of lymphoma. He underwent chemotherapy treatments and returned to the Red Sox at spring training before the following season.

Lester is entering his 16th year in the majors and first with Washington. He was a free agent and joined the Nationals on a $5 million, one-year contract after playing the past six seasons with the Chicago Cubs.

The starting pitcher originally was scheduled to make his first appearance for Washington in a Grapefruit League game Thursday. But Martinez said that after additional test results came in, a decision was made Tuesday for Lester to have the surgery.


He said Lester had been feeling tired.

“That’s the big issue. I feel like once they get this out, he’ll have a lot more energy throughout the day,” the manager said. “I hope it works out for him. I really do. He’s a big part of what we do here and we love having him. He’s been working his tail off, day in and day out, and I know he’s going to help us.”

Washington added Lester to a star-studded rotation that already included three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, 2019 World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg and lefty Patrick Corbin.

TWINS: Eager for a fresh start with a new team, J.A. Happ needed to slow down before throwing a single pitch for the Minnesota Twins.

The left-hander tested positive for COVID-19 upon reporting to spring training, putting his practice schedule on hold.

Happ cleared virus protocols on Tuesday and took part in team workouts for the first time at camp in Fort Myers, Florida. The rest of the Twins played an exhibition game against Atlanta in North Port.


The 38-year-old Happ, who left the New York Yankees and signed in January with the Twins for $8 million this season, acknowledged feeling anxious about making up for the lost time and “pressing a little bit” in his bullpen session.

Happ said his senses of smell and taste have not yet returned, but beyond that he feels fine physically.

“It is strange. I make a protein smoothie every day, and I just remember one day waking up and I made that, and I just thought, ‘Did I make the wrong ingredients in here? It just doesn’t taste anywhere close,’” Happ said. “And then I realized two minutes later that’s sort of a symptom that you get with this. That was over a week ago now. But I think it is coming back. I feel like I’m getting slight bits here and there, so hopefully that continues.”

CUBS: Infielder Eric Sogard and the Cubs agreed to a minor league contract, a person familiar with the situation said.

The 34-year-old Sogard hit .209 with one home run and 10 RBI in 43 games for Milwaukee last season. He has a .246 average, 25 homers and 175 RBI over 10 seasons with Oakland, Toronto, Tampa Bay and the Brewers.

DIAMONDBACKS: Arizona outfielder Tim Locastro tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday night and Manager Torey Lovullo said on Wednesday he would be out for 10 days unless there had been a false positive. Lovullo added that Locastro feels good and currently has no symptoms.


The 28-year-old Locastro is expected to have a sizable role with the Diamondbacks this season, either as the starting center fielder or a versatile backup outfielder. He hit .290 last season with two homers and four stolen bases in 33 games.

“He’s doing good,” Lovullo said. “I got the information last night, spoke to him this morning and he’s in the protocol and feeling fine.”

MARLINS: Veteran left-hander Gio González has agreed to terms on a minor league contract with the Miami Marlins and will take part in their major league camp.

González, a South Florida native, pitched in 12 games last year for Chicago White Sox with four starts and had an ERA of 4.83. He has a career record of 131-101 with a 3.70 ERA in 13 seasons for four teams.

At 35, González provides experienced depth for the Marlins’ talented young rotation. He is a two-time All-Star, with Oakland in 2011 and Washington in 2012.

ORIOLES: Joe Altobelli, the manager who led the Baltimore Orioles to their most recent World Series title in 1983, has died at the age of 88.


The Orioles confirmed Altobelli’s death on Wednesday and in a statement said that the manager was a “tremendous leader.”

Altobelli was hired by the Orioles before the 1983 season – replacing future Hall of Famer Earl Weaver – and immediately found success. The team’s roster included future Hall of Famers like first baseman Eddie Murray, shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. and pitcher Jim Palmer.

The balanced club won the AL East by six games over the Detroit Tigers and then dominated in the playoffs, beating the Chicago White Sox 3 games to 1 before rolling to the World Series title over the Philadelphia Phillies in five games.

Altobelli managed the Orioles three seasons, then was fired after a 29-26 start in 1985. He also managed the San Francisco Giants from 1977-79. He led the Chicago Cubs for one game as the interim manager in 1991.

He had a career record of 437-407. Altobelli also had a successful stretch as the Orioles’ Triple-A manager from 1971-76, when the Rochester Red Wings won two International League championships.

Altobelli played in three big-league seasons during a span from 1955-61. He spent two of those years with Cleveland and one with Minnesota.


ASTROS: Left-hander Framber Valdez has a fractured left ring finger, an injury that could deal another blow to the team’s banged-up starting rotation.

The 27-year-old was hurt on the fifth pitch of his spring training debut Tuesday at Port St. Lucie, on a one-hopper off the bat of the New York Mets’ Francisco Lindor for the second out of the first inning. The ball hit the finger as he grabbed the ball, and after throwing to first for the out, Valdez flexed the finger several times.

He took a few warm-ups and stayed in the game. Valdez finished two innings, throwing 24 pitches.

Valdez was 5-3 with a 3.57 ERA in 10 starts and one relief appearance last year, striking out 76 and walking 16 in a team-high 70 2/3 innings.

Houston already was missing ace Justin Verlander, who probably will miss the entire season following Tommy John surgery on Sept. 30. Valdez had been projected to be part of a rotation that includes Zack Greinke, Cristian Javier, Lance McCullers Jr. and Jose Urquidy.

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