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Chris Archer to make debut for Pirates vs. Cardinals

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The Pittsburgh Pirates beat out other teams to land right-hander Chris Archer at the non-waiver trade deadline Tuesday, and now they will get to see him in action.

Archer is scheduled to make his Pirates debut Friday when Pittsburgh opens a key National League Central series against the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park.

The Pirates gave up rookie outfielder Austin Meadows, right-hander Tyler Glasnow and a player to be named to acquire Archer from Tampa.

“Just the intensity he brings, the electric stuff that he has on the mound, he’s fun to watch,” Pittsburgh’s Sean Rodriguez, a former Rays teammate, said, according to mlb.com.

Archer is 3-5 with a 4.31 ERA and 1.39 WHIP in 17 starts. Over the past three seasons, he is 22-36 with a 4.10 ERA. He has been among the top three in the American League in strikeouts each of the past three seasons, the only Tampa pitcher to ever have three 200-strikeout seasons. He also has been reliably available, with at least 32 starts each of the past three seasons.

“We understand the surface numbers aren’t typical Chris Archer surface numbers,” Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said. “We believe the indicators are there that Chris Archer is still an upper-echelon, top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher.”

Archer arrived Wednesday and received a warm welcome from teammates and fans.

“That was the biggest relief after all the trade rumors — these guys really want me,” Archer said.

Pittsburgh and St. Louis have identical 56-53 records, tied for third in the division, following the Cardinals’ walk-off 3-2 win on Thursday against Colorado.

The Pirates, who were off Thursday, have won 16 of their past 20 games, boosting them into wild-card contention.

The Cardinals are 8-7 since the All-Star break and are not only in a playoff chase but also in the midst of a youth movement.

Gone, in the minor leagues or on the disabled list are Tyler Lyons, Sam Tuivailala, Greg Holland, Luke Voit, Tommy Pham, Matt Bowman, Brett Cecil and Luke Gregerson.

Called up or added through trade are Daniel Poncedeleon, Auston Gomber, Dakota Hudson, Tyler Webb, Tyler O’Neill and Chasen Shreve. St. Louis also recently added eight minor league players.

That follows the firing of manager Mike Matheny.

“We could have done it many different ways,” president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said, according to mlb.com. “We look at our system, and we’re just trying to add to it as well as creating opportunity at the major league level. Not everybody is going to agree with that philosophy. But that’s our road map, and we’re hopeful it’s successful.”

He called the current stretch of games a “peek at the future.”

The Cardinals could get one veteran back over the weekend. Second baseman Kolten Wong (left knee inflammation) is expected to travel to Pittsburgh and be activated from the disabled list as soon as Friday.

Right-hander John Gant (3-4, 3.49 ERA) is scheduled to start Friday for St. Louis. Gant is coming off a 5-2 loss to the Cubs on Sunday, when he matched a season low with 4 1/3 innings. He allowed three runs, two earned, including two homers.

Gant is 0-1 with a 4.22 ERA in four career appearances, two starts, against Pittsburgh.

Astros owner Crane expects to hire new manager by Feb. 3

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HOUSTON (AP) — Houston Astros owner Jim Crane expects to hire a new manager by Feb. 3.

The Astros need a new manager and general manager after AJ Hinch and Jeff Luhnow were fired Monday, hours after both were suspended by Major League Baseball for a year for the team’s sign-stealing scandal.

Crane said Friday that he’s interviewed a number of candidates this week and has some more to talk to in the coming days.

Crane refused to answer directly when asked if former Astros player and Hall of Famer Craig Biggio was a possibility for the job. But he did say that he had spoken to Biggio, fellow Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell and former Astros star Lance Berkman in the days since the firings.

“We’ve talked to all of our Killer B’s,” Crane said referring to the nickname the three shared while playing for the Astros. “They’ve contacted me and they’ve all expressed that they would like to help. Berkman, Bagwell, Biggio have all called and said: ‘hey, if there’s anything I can do, I’m here for you.’”

“So we’ll continue to visit with those guys and see if there’s something there.”

Crane says his list is still rather extensive and that he hopes to have it narrowed down by the end of next week. He added that he expects most of Hinch’s staff to stay in place regardless of who is hired.

Crane has enlisted the help of three or four employees to help him with the interview process, including some in Houston’s baseball operations department.

“We compare notes,” he said. “I’ve learned a long time ago that you learn a lot if four or five people talk to a key candidate and you get a lot more information. So that’s what we’re doing.”

Crane’ top priority is finding a manager with spring training less than a month away, but he said he would start focusing on the search for a general manager after he hires a manager. He expects to hire a GM before the end of spring training.

“We should have another good season with the team pretty much intact … so I don’t know why a manager wouldn’t want to come in and manage these guys,” he said. “They’re set to win again.”

The penalties announced by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on Monday came after he found illicit use of electronics to steal signs in Houston’s run to the 2017 World Series championship and again in the 2018 season. The Astros were also fined $5 million, which is the maximum allowed under the Major League Constitution, and must forfeit their next two first- and second-round amateur draft picks.

The investigation found that the Astros used the video feed from a center field camera to see and decode the opposing catcher’s signs. Players banged on a trash can to signal to batters what was coming, believing it would improve the batter’s odds of getting a hit.

With much still in flux, Crane was asked what qualities are most important to him in his next manager.

“Someone mature that can handle the group,” he said. “Someone that’s had a little bit of experience in some areas. We’ve just got to find a leader that can handle some pressure and there’s going to be a little bit of pressure from where this team has been in the last few months.”

Despite his comment about experience, Crane said having been a major league manager before is not mandatory to him.

“We made some mistakes,” he said. “We made a decision to let that get behind us. We think the future is bright. We’ll make the adjustments … people think we’re in crisis. I certainly don’t believe that.”