Shaun Marcum scratched from simulated game, won’t make scheduled debut on Sunday

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Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that Mets right-hander Shaun Marcum was unable to throw a scheduled simulated game on Tuesday in Port St. Lucie, Florida because of lingering pain in his neck. Which means that he won’t be able to make his scheduled regular-season debut on Sunday vs. the Marlins. Aaron Laffey is expected to fill in.

Marcum was placed on the 15-day disabled list Monday with right biceps tendinitis. He also got a cortisone shot in his right shoulder last week. This ongoing neck issue is presumably related to both.

Marcum signed a one-year, $4 million free agent contract with the Mets this winter after registering a 3.70 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 109/41 K/BB ratio across 124 innings (21 starts) last season for the Brewers. It’s not known when he might debut.

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.