Mike Minor to throw batting practice Monday for the first time this spring

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Mike Minor fell behind in his offseason training program after a painful-sounding surgery for a urinary tract infection in late December and showed up to camp with some shoulder soreness, but he’s beginning to make some progress.

According to Mark Bowman of MLB.com, Minor is scheduled to throw live batting practice Monday for the first time this spring. He was cleared to face hitters after making it through four recent bullpen sessions with no issues.

It’s unclear how batting practice sessions Minor will have to complete before he gets into a game, but the Braves aren’t going to take any chances following the injuries to Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy. The best-case scenario is that he’ll join the rotation when the team needs a fifth starter for the first time on April 12 against the Nationals. The recently-signed Ervin Santana could also be ready around that time.

Minor, 26, posted a 3.21 ERA and 181/46 K/BB ratio over 204 2/3 innings last season.

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.