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Zimmermann impressive but Nationals rally to top Tigers

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VIERA, Fla. (AP) Jordan Zimmermann retired eight of his first nine batters in his Detroit debut against his former team, and the Tigers went on to an 8-4 loss to the Washington Nationals on Saturday.

Zimmermann yielded a two-out hit to Pedro Severino in the third inning before being replaced by Bruce Rondon, who gave up a two-run homer to Ben Revere.

Zimmermann made his major league debut with Washington in 2009 and played for the Nationals for seven seasons before signing a $110 million, five-year contract with Detroit over the winter.

Washington starter Stephen Strasburg struck out five but gave up the first of Bryan Holaday‘s two two-run homers in the second inning. Holaday also connected against A.J. Cole and is 6 for 8 with three homers and eight RBIs this spring.

Matt Skole also hit a two-run homer for Washington. Scott Sizemore had a solo shot.

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.