Yadier Molina and Gerald Laird downplay ‘animated argument’

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Reports surfaced last night about Cardinals teammates Yadier Molina and Gerald Laird getting into an “ugly” fight over an undisclosed issue, but everyone involved has now downplayed the incident that Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post Dispatch calls an “animated argument.”

According to Hummel, manager Tony La Russa held a closed-door clubhouse meeting yesterday to address, among other things, the Molina-Laird situation, which occurred at the team hotel after the Cardinals arrived in Florida late Wednesday night.

Albert Pujols reportedly intervened, no punches were thrown, and La Russa told Hummel that “they hugged each other” afterward. Or as Laird put it:

It was just a disagreement. Long day. It’s a long year. When you spend a lot of time with these guys, obviously you’re going to have disagreements. Two guys disagreeing about something and that’s about it. We’re friends. We get along real well.

Still no word on what that “something” could have been, although my hope is that it all started when Laird accused Yadier of being the slowest Molina brother.

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.