Alex Gordon takes live batting practice for the first time since suffering groin injury in early July

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Royals left fielder Alex Gordon made a significant stride Saturday in his recovery from a Grade 2 left groin strain, taking live batting practice on the field at Kauffman Stadium. It was his first live BP session since he landed on the disabled list on July 8.

“I still have a while,” Gordon told the Kansas City Star when asked about a timetable for his return to the Royals’ active roster. “There’s still a lot of things that I have to accomplish before I go out there. And with the team having the big lead like we have in the [AL Central standings], there’s no reason to rush it.”

Jarrod Dyson and trade deadline acquisition Ben Zobrist have been handling left field in Gordon’s absence.

Kansas City has the biggest division lead of any team at 10 1/2 games.

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.