Hurdle named Sporting News' NL Manager of the Year
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was named the National League Manager of the Year by The Sporting News on Tuesday after leading the Pirates to their first winning season and playoff appearance since 1992.
Hurdle led the Pirates to a 94-win regular season, good for second place in the NL Central Division. The Pirates defeated the Reds in the wild-card game to advance to the NL Division Series, where they lost in five games to the NL champion Cardinals.
Hurdle described the award as the product of organization-wide success. Still, Hurdle was in a primary leadership position and discussed what he believes his impact was in an interview with the Tribune-Review on Tuesday.
“There are a couple focus points I tried to get in place the first year that I was here (2011) that I believe are now staples. They are not thoughts, they are not hopes, they are not wishes,” Hurdle said. “We truly show up to get better every day, we honestly self-evaluate. ... That's been one of the strengths of the club this season, the ability to push forward through challenges.
“We had some opportunities to maybe stumble as we did the last couple years, but the men in that clubhouse were not going to let that happen this year.”
Known for his booming voice and daily inspirational email messages and regarded as a good developer of young talent, Hurdle evolved as a manager in Pittsburgh.
Since his time with the Rockies, Hurdle has embraced new-age statistical information. In 2013, the Pirates became one of the more aggressive teams in employing defensive shifts, leading to a dramatic improvement in defensive play.
“I've learned over time I don't have all the answers,” Hurdle said. “I need to use my eyes and ears, and I continue to try and do that. There's been growth there.”
Clint Barmes, who played under Hurdle in Colorado, told the Tribune-Review earlier this year that Hurdle changed how he interacts in the clubhouse.
“He still jokes and has fun, but he gives the players control of the clubhouse and lets us do our thing,” Barmes said. “There are a lot of times when it's your boss or someone in that position, it can get uneasy in a clubhouse . ... Overall, he's handled it very well with the respect of letting the players in here form the chemistry and that bond.”
The season marked the second winning campaign in Hurdle's 11-year managerial career. He led the Colorado Rockies to a 90-win season and the NL pennant in 2007.
Hurdle, who has a 245-241 record in three years with the Pirates, is under contract for next season with a club option for 2015. Pirates owner Bob Nutting said last week it was premature to address the prospect of a contract extension.
Said Hurdle: “I don't think that's at the top of the list for anybody (right now).”