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Jonathan Villar hits for the cycle

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Orioles shortstop Jonathan Villar hit for the cycle on Monday night at home against the Yankees. He struck out in his first at-bat before hitting a triple followed by a double and a two-run home run. He singled to right field in the bottom of the ninth inning to complete the cycle.

Villar, 28, is the first Oriole to hit for the Cycle since Félix Pie on August 14, 2009 against the Angels. It’s the fifth cycle this season as Jorge Polanco, Shohei Ohtani, Jake Bauers, and Trea Turner have also accomplished the feat.

After his 4-for-5 effort in Monday’s 9-6 loss, Villar is batting .267/.331/.437 with 15 home runs, 51 RBI, 74 runs scored, and 24 stolen bases in 486 plate appearances. Not bad for a guy the Orioles got along with two other players from the Brewers in a trade just ahead of the deadline on July 31 last year.

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.