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Korean reliever Seung-Hwan Oh still awaiting work visa as start of Cardinals camp looms

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Korean reliever Seung-Hwan Oh, nicknamed “The Final Boss” in Asia, agreed to a one-year contract with the St. Louis Cardinals back on January 11. In the weeks since, Oh and his representatives have been trying to secure a work visa for the 33-year-old right-hander that will allow him to report on time to Cardinals spring training in Jupiter, Florida.

But it hasn’t come together yet …

Those tweets come from Daniel Kim, a former MLB scout who now covers both Major League Baseball and the Korea Baseball Organization. Kim notes humorously that the U.S. Ambassador to South Korea, Mark Lippert, is a huge Reds fan. Conspiracy!

Brian Stull of STL Baseball Weekly was told by a Cardinals official on Tuesday that the team is anticipating Oh arriving on time later this month at Roger Dean Stadium. But if the visa issue isn’t resolved soon, Oh could very well be a week or two late. That wouldn’t be a problem for most relievers, who take very little spring work to get properly tuned up for the regular season, but Oh spent the last 11 years pitching in either Korea or Japan. He would probably like to get familiar with MLB hitters and the MLB scene in general.

Oh saved 357 games in Asia while posting a 1.81 ERA and 772 strikeouts in 646 innings. He is expected to work as a setup man to Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal.

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.