Play of Opening Day: Mark Buehrle flashes leather

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Jason Heyward, whose middle name may as well be “Braves phenom,” announced his arrival with authority when he smashed a Carlos Zambrano offering into the cheap seats for a three-run home run in his first at-bat.  [Watch here]

And Diamondbacks shortstop Stephen Drew dazzled the crowd with his inside-the-park home run against the Padres.

But the play of the day goes to Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle, whose through-the-legs flip to first baseman Paul Konerko (after he stopped a hard grounder up the middle with his foot) for an out was simply amazing.

White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham was among the impressed, as he told the Chicago Tribune:

“I was right there, so I got a pretty good look. It was pretty awesome. I was talking to the second-base umpire Bruce (Dreckman) and he said, ‘turn off the cameras now, it’s the best play of the year, first game.’ Unbelievable play. Mark’s a good athlete, and he showed it right there.”

You can watch the play – and be amazed – here. Watch the interviews below.

 

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Pirates hire Ben Cherington as their new general manager

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The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Ben Cherington as the team’s new general manager. They do so after the general manager meetings ended, but better late than never.

Cherington served as GM of the Boston Red Sox for four years, winning the World Series in 2013, but resigned during the 2015 season after Dave Dombrowski was named Boston’s new president of baseball operations. Which was a defacto demotionn for Cherington who, until then, had the final say in baseball decisions. Dombrowski, of course, was fired late in the season this year. Cherington went on to work for the Toronto Blue Jays as a vice president, but was seen as biding his time for another GM position. Now he has one.

Cherington takes over in Pittsburgh for executive vice president and general manager Neal Huntington, who was fired after a 12 years at the helm. Also fired was team president Frank Coonelly. Travis Williams replaced Coonelly recently. While the Pirates experienced a few years of contention under Huntington and Coonelly, they have slid out of contention in recent years as the club has traded away promising players for little return, all while cutting payroll. There’s a very big rebuilding job ahead of Cherington.

The first move he’ll have to make: hire a manager, as the team still hasn’t replaced Clint Hurdle since he was dismissed in the final weekend of the regular season.