At least one Dodger thinks the Australia trip led to injuries

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This is the sort of thing that (a) you can’t exactly say is based in medical certainty; and (b) you know Major League Baseball doesn’t want players saying regardless, given how much juice they put behind their international opening series initiative. From the L.A. Times:

The Dodgers shortened their spring-training camp to the facilitate the trip, something one player blamed for Kershaw and Wilson’s health issues. The player, who did not want to be named, pointed out how the Arizona Diamondbacks, the other team that went to Australia, have also lost their No. 1 starter and setup man. The injuries to Patrick Corbin and David Hernandez of the Diamondbacks were severe; both recently underwent major elbow operations.

The Corbin case is particularly noteworthy, for it is the first time a major league pitcher has ever had to have Tommy John surgery in the history of baseball.

OK, to be fair, Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt was critical of how little time his pitchers were given to prepare for the season, and that could be a legitimate gripe. It’s at least something baseball should take a hard look at before scheduling overseas series in March again. That said, to the extent we’re actually attributing the injuries to the Australia trip with anything approaching certainty, we’re way off into crazy speculation land.

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.