Alex Gordon will begin a rehab assignment this weekend

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Royals outfielder Alex Gordon will begin a rehab assignment this weekend, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports. Gordon has been out since July 9 after suffering a Grade 2 groin strain. If all goes well, the Royals could get Gordon back by the end of the month.

Gordon, 31, was hitting .279/.394/.457 with 11 home runs and 39 RBI prior to the injury, resulting in a nomination to the American League All-Star team for the third consecutive season. The 70-46 Royals lead the AL Central by 11.5 games over the Twins, so they’re near-locks to win the division. But the Royals would still like to get him back to remove any doubt and to give him enough playing time to remove any rust.

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.