Pirates round out coaching staff for the 2011 season

| Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2010

The Pirates announced their full 2011 coaching staff Wednesday, and there are some familiar names on the list.

Pitching coach Ray Searage, who replaced Joe Kerrigan in August and was well-liked throughout the clubhouse, and bench coach Jeff Banister, who replaced Gary Varsho at the same time, will be back in the same capacity. Also staying on will be bullpen catcher Heberto Andrade.

Banister was a finalist for the manager's spot, awarded to Clint Hurdle on Nov. 15.

"(Banister) is a Pirate at heart; he loves the organization and the direction we're headed in," general manager Neal Huntington said. "We talked openly about how he would have been a good choice (for manager), and he still wants to make an impact. Clint was open to working closely with Jeff. There's a mutual respect there, and there's a good relationship forming. They're aligned for a common cause, and that's to make the major league team better."

Two men have been promoted from within the organization. Gregg Ritchie, who spent the last five years as Pittsburgh's minor-league hitting coordinator, will serve as the Pirates' hitting coach. Euclides Rojas, the organization's Latin American field coordinator since 2005, will become the team's bullpen coach.

With Ritchie, Huntington said they get a coach who's proven in the minors his ability to help hitters not only mechanically but also mentally, with their approach, game plan and ability to execute as they advance through the system.

"With Clint's expertise in hitting and his ability to mentor (Ritchie), it's a great combination for us and allows us to have the most impact on our hitters," Huntington said. "(Ritchie) was a finalist for the job in '07 and has continued to develop and shown a terrific ability to help hitters get better."

Newcomers to the organization include third base coach Nick Leyva, who will also serve as the infield coach. He was Toronto's bench coach last year. First base coach Luis Silverio also will serve as the outfield and baserunning coach. He spent the last 35 years in the Kansas City Royals organization. Mark Strittmatter will serve as the pitchers' hitting coach and will assist the catchers and the hitting program. Strittmatter was the bullpen catcher for the Colorado Rockies for the past eight years.

"Clint and I feel like we have a great staff who are going to carry a lot of good things forward yet also bring some external and new ideas to us as an organization," Huntington said. "We look forward to blending those together and, most importantly, impacting our players at the major league level."

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