The Mariners have selected the contract of catcher/infielder Austin Nola, per an announcement from skipper Scott Servais on Saturday. Nola will make his major-league debut during Sunday’s game against the Athletics, where he’ll play first base and bat ninth.
The older brother of Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola, 29-year-old Austin has toiled in the minors for eight long years before getting his break. He impressed in Triple-A Tacoma this spring, slashing a hearty .327/.415/.520 with seven home runs, 37 RBI, and a .935 OPS across 229 plate appearances. He’ll assume the roster spot left by Edwin Encarnación on Saturday and is expected to lend some positional versatility to the Mariners’ bench, as he’s well-versed in every infield position and has experience behind the dish as well.
In a conversation with Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Nola’s brother expressed his excitement over the long-awaited move:
The Mariners will kick off Nola’s debut — and their series finale against Oakland — at 4:07 PM EDT on Sunday.
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.