Alex Gordon hopes to be cleared for throwing and batting practice early next week

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Royals outfielder Alex Gordon needed an extensor retinaculum repair on his right wrist in early January, but he is aiming to be fully recovered by the beginning of the 2015 regular season. And his recovery has gone according to plan thus far.

Gordon will have a checkup early next week with Royals team physician Dr. Bruce Toby and the 31-year-old is hoping that he’ll be cleared during that visit for throwing and batting practice — the two biggest tests of his surgically-repaired wrist.

“It might be a little slow getting back into it,” Gordon told beat writer Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star on Tuesday afternoon. “But I’m confident when Opening Day comes, I’ll be fine.”

Gordon batted .266/.351/.432 with 19 home runs and 74 RBI in 156 games last season for the American League champions, earning his second career All-Star nod and fourth straight Gold Glove.

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.