Matt Kemp picks his Home Run Derby squad

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Squad captain Matt Kemp announced Sunday that he’s chosen the Rockies’ Carlos Gonzalez, the Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton and the Cardinals’ Carlos Beltran to participate alongside himself in the Home Run Derby.

Kemp plans to take part in the contest, even though he’s still expected to be on the disabled list as he continues his recovery from a hamstring injury. His status for the All-Star Game the following night is still to be determined.

Kemp appears to have bypassed NL home run leader Ryan Braun in choosing his squad. With 22 homers, Braun is two ahead of Beltran, three ahead of Stanton and five ahead of Gonzalez and Jay Bruce on the NL leaderboard. It’s possible Braun opted out of the contest, but there’s been nothing so far to indicate that he did.

The AL squad, which will be picked by Robinson Cano, has yet to be announced.

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.