Pirates plan to bat the pitcher eighth this season

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Pirates manager John Russell revealed today that he plans to bat the pitcher eighth in the lineup for most games this season, with shortstop Ronny Cedeno or his backup Bobby Crosby hitting ninth.
Some lineup simulations have shown that the pitcher batting eighth rather than ninth can indeed lead to more runs, as having a position player in the last spot gives the top of the batting order more runners to drive in.
The down side is that by hitting eighth the pitcher will come to the plate more often and closer to the lineup’s most potent threats, potentially halting more rallies in progress.
Russell follows in the footsteps of Tony La Russa and Ned Yost, both of whom batted the pitcher eighth frequently in recent years.
In this case the goal is to create more RBI chances for Andrew McCutchen, which is also why Russell announced that he’ll hit second in the lineup this season after exclusively leading off as a rookie last year. Akinori Iwamura will replace him atop the lineup.

Assault charges against Roberto Osuna withdrawn, peace bond issued

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Astros reliever Roberto Osuna appeared in an Ontario court today, where the assault charges against him were withdrawn. In their place is now a one-year peace bond, which is akin to a restraining order combined with probation. Pursuant to the peace bond Osuna is required to continue with counseling he has undertaken, to not get in any legal trouble and to have no contact with his accuser without court consent for the next year.

The reason for the revocation of the charges is that, according to prosecutors, the complainant is in Mexico and would not return to Canada for a trial against Osuna. Without her testimony the case against Osuna could not be won. The peace bond, then, was the only real option.

Osuna was arrested in Toronto while still playing for the Blue Jays and was charged with assaulting a woman on May 8. Major League Baseball suspended him for 75 games under the league’s domestic violence policy. The Blue Jays traded him to the Astros on July 30 in exchange for Ken Giles and two minor leaguers and he has pitched for the Astros ever since. This latest hearing was scheduled to coincide with the Astros’ trip to Toronto this week.

The Astros issued a statement:

And statements from Osuna and his attorney: