So, that thing about the Nationals’ projected Opening Day lineup finally being in place? Well, Denard Span sat out tonight’s game against the Padres with a sore back and Yunel Escobar was forced to exit in the sixth inning after he was hit in the right hand by a pitch.
Escobar was hit by Andrew Cashner with the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth inning. It brought in the Nationals’ first run of the night and tied the game. The Nationals would score another run in the inning to take the lead. Escobar remained in the game initially before Danny Espinosa replaced him in the lineup and Anthony Rendon moved over to third. The Nationals should provide an update after the game.
Escobar has been all sorts of banged up this season and just missed some time last weekend with a hyperextended neck. The 32-year-old has still managed to be one of the Nationals’ best players, batting .308/.367/.423 with nine home runs and 42 RBI over 112 games.
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.