Hurdle: 'We've got work to do'

Rob Biertempfel
| Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2010

Clint Hurdle, who was introduced as the Pirates' 39th manager Monday, did not sweet-talk his way into the job.

"He was very direct," principal owner Bob Nutting said. "He wants to be with an organization that he believes is on track for real success."

During his interview, Hurdle sat stone-faced across from Nutting, president Frank Coonelly and general manager Neal Huntington. Hurdle asked each of them the same question.

"I looked them in the eye and asked, 'Are you in?' " Hurdle said. "To a man, they looked back at me and said, 'We're in.' I wanted to make sure I was with a group of men who are going to lock arms and go."

Convinced Nutting will do what it takes -- including increase player payroll -- to field a winner, Hurdle dropped out of the running for the New York Mets' manager's job and signed a three-year deal with the Pirates.

"Clint Hurdle gives us an opportunity to take a huge step forward," said Huntington, who canvassed at least 30 of Hurdle's peers before offering a contract. "He is going to lead us in the right direction quickly."

Hurdle, 53, has been to the World Series as a player, hitting coach and manager, but has been on the losing side each time. He went 534-625 as the Colorado Rockies' manager from 2002-09 and this year was hitting coach for the Texas Rangers.

He replaces John Russell, who was fired Oct. 4 after going 186-299 over three years and extending the Pirates' streak of 18 losing seasons.

"We're going to roll our sleeves up as soon as I get done with this (news conference)," Hurdle said. "We have work to do."

The first task will be assembling the coaching staff, and Hurdle already has begun contacting candidates.

Nick Leyva is the frontrunner to be either the bench coach or third base coach. He managed the Philadelphia Phillies from 1989-91 and this year was the Toronto Blue Jays' bench coach.

Two members of Russell's staff -- interim bench coach Jeff Banister and interim pitching coach Ray Searage -- likely will remain with the Pirates.

"Until somebody tells me otherwise, I consider myself a Pirate," said Banister, who was the other finalist for the job. "I'm not assuming anything, but I would like to be back. I will get behind Clint Hurdle now."

Banister began this year as the minor league field coordinator, and that post was not filled after he was promoted to the major league staff. He could be a good fit on Hurdle's staff as first base coach and infield instructor.

Searage was promoted to pitching coach in July after Joe Kerrigan was fired, becoming the Pirates' fourth pitching coach in a four-year span.

"Going through another pitching coach, you risk confusion with the pitchers," Coonelly said. "I'm confident Ray Searage will be given every opportunity to talk with Neal and Clint about his role going forward."

Reached by phone in Venezuela, where he is managing a winter league team, Searage said he has not yet been contacted by the Pirates about an interview.

"Do I want to come back• An emphatic yes," Searage said. "I think I can make a difference."

Sunday night, closer Joel Hanrahan and Hurdle went to the Steelers game at Heinz Field. During the game, Hurdle asked Hanrahan specifically about Searage.

"I told him I really enjoyed working with Ray," Hanrahan said. "Ray has a great relationship with everyone on the team, so I gave my vote for Ray. I'd love to see him get the job."

» Notes: Hurdle will meet with players individually over the next few weeks. His first chance to work with the team en masse will come at minicamp, which is tentatively set for Jan. 9-14 in Bradenton, Fla. ... Neil Walker (who got one second-place vote) was fifth and Jose Tabata (one third-place vote) was eighth in NL Rookie of the Year balloting. ... Look for the Pirates to be among the serious bidders for free-agent pitcher Jorge de la Rosa. Jeff Francis and Jeremy Bonderman also are on their radar. ... The Orioles have hired Russell as bench coach. ... Woody Huyke, a coach with the rookie ball Gulf Coast League Pirates, won the Coolbaugh Award as an outstanding coach in the minor leagues. Huyke, who's worked 42 years as a manager and coach in the Pirates' farm system, will get the award next month during the Winter Meetings in Orlando, Fla.

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Clint Hurdle named Pirates manager

Clint Hurdle named Pirates manager

The Pirates hire Clint Hurdle as the 39th manager in team history.

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