Joe Girardi says Jacoby Ellsbury returning by June 30 “is probably going to be pretty difficult”

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Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury had hoped to return from a sprained right knee by the end of the month, but it sounds like he won’t be ready to come off the disabled list by then.

Manager Joe Girardi told Christina De Nicola of MLB.com that Ellsbury coming back by June 30 “is probably going to be pretty difficult” because he still isn’t running at 100 percent one month after suffering the injury and “it’s just not where we want it to be physically.”

Brett Gardner initially shifted from left field to center field following Ellsbury’s injury, but of late the Yankees have mostly been using rookie call-up Mason Williams in center field with Gardner back in a corner spot.

Ellsbury hit .324 with 14 steals and a .783 OPS in 37 games before the injury, leading the Yankees with a .412 on-base percentage.

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.