Sean Doolittle successfully threw a 20-pitch bullpen

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MLB.com’s Jane Lee reports that Athletics closer Sean Doolittle threw a 20-pitch bullpen on Saturday morning and did not have any issues. He will travel with the team and arrive in Chicago for a four-game series against the White Sox starting on Monday, which seems to indicate that he could be activated at some point during the week.

Doolittle has been on the disabled list since August 24 with a strained right intercostal muscle. He’s currently on a streak of 13 consecutive scoreless appearances, and owns an impressive 2.28 ERA with 20 saves and an 80/5 K/BB ratio in 55 1/3 innings this season.

The Athletics have lost seven of their last eight games, so they have not had much use for an interim closer. They enter Saturday’s action six games out of first place in the AL West, trailing the Angels.

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.