Alex Cobb, Jose Molina had to be separated in Rays dugout

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In the middle of last night’s loss to the Red Sox, starter Alex Cobb and catcher Jose Molina had to be separated in the Rays dugout after an altercation that manager Joe Maddon called simply “boys being boys.”

However, according to Greg Zeck of MLB.com Molina refused to speak to the media afterward and Cobb insisted to reporters that he wasn’t the one who started the fight:

That’s the one thing I want to be clear, is that I wouldn’t approach a teammate like that. That was not instigated by me. … I got some texts from people [who] think it was me, but that wasn’t instigated by me at all.

Based on the MLB.com video it looks like Cobb is right about Molina doing the instigating or at least being the far more vocal of the two at the beginning of the incident. Cobb also said that he didn’t speak to Molina after the game, which suggests it wasn’t exactly squashed immediately.

Certainly the Rays can’t be blamed for being frustrated as their playoff hopes slip away, but if Molina was the one instigating the dugout altercation it’s interesting considering the light-hitting veteran catcher was signed specifically for his ability to handle a pitching staff and help young pitchers like the 24-year-old Cobb.

Also: I’m setting the hypothetical betting line at Molina -350 over Cobb.

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.