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Hitting coach Bell departs Pirates for Reds

Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates hitting coach Jay Bell hits ground balls during work-outs at spring training at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla.

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Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013, 8:42 a.m.
 

After one season as Pirates hitting coach when he presided over uneven production, Jay Bell left the organization this week to become the Cincinnati Reds' bench coach, the Pirates confirmed Tuesday.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said he had interviewed candidates over the last two days and already has a favorite in mind to replace Bell: assistant hitting coach Jeff Branson, who has been in the organization for 13 years.

“(Branson) has sweat equity in our organization,” Hurdle said. “I'm not a big fan of turnover. If we go outside, it would be a third guy in three years. So I'd say, yeah, he's probably the favorite.”

Whoever replaces Bell will be charged with improving offensive production. In the National League, the Pirates ranked ninth in runs (161), 11th in batting average (.245) and third in strikeouts (1,330) under Bell.

Bell, a former Pirates shortstop, and new Reds manager Bryan Price worked together in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization from 2007-09 when Price was the team's pitching coach.

“I've known for a long time that Jay has a relationship professionally and personally with Bryan Price,” Hurdle said.

“When he shared his thoughts with me, I'm all for people being happy.”

Travis Sawchik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at tsawchik@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Sawchik_Trib.

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