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Pirates continue to clean house

Rob Biertempfel
| Friday, Oct. 3, 2008

The reshaping of the Pirates organization continues.

Two former special assistants to the general manager have been removed. Roy Smith, who began his second stint with the team in 2006, again has left the front office. Jesse Flores was reassigned to a scouting supervisor role with the Pirates.

Joe Salermo, who was an area scout in Florida and Puerto Rico, resigned to become the Latin American crosschecker for the San Francisco Giants.

In addition, long-time equipment manager Roger Wilson was fired Wednesday, the same day play-by-play announcer Lanny Frattare retired.

"We're evaluating every department as we move forward," general manager Neal Huntington said Thursday. "We will probably see more minor changes here and there. We are trying to create a championship environment and culture. Every person who comes into contact with the players impacts that."

Assistant equipment manager Scott Bonnett and visiting clubhouse manager Kevin Conrad are still with the team. Both can interview for Wilson's position if they choose.

Huntington indicated there may be one more departure among the special assistants. But, he said, those who leave will be replaced.

"In fact, we might add one more special assistant than we had before," Huntington said. "These decisions are not financially driven. If anything, we are growing."

The medical training staff and strength and conditioning coaches will be retained for 2009.

Wilson has worked 33 seasons in the major leagues, including the past 17 with the Pirates.

Wilson was responsible for transporting all of the team's equipment and luggage as well as maintaining the home clubhouse at PNC Park. He was a personal assistant of sorts, whose daily duties ran the gamut from washing and mending uniforms, to cooking a quick snack, to helping a player get his car windshield repaired.

Huntington has begun vetting candidates for the Pirates' pitching coach and first-base coach positions. Jeff Andrews and Lou Frazier were fired at the end of the season.

Huntington said the process will not be as restricted as last year's manager search, when the Pirates avoided interviewing candidates whose teams were still in the playoffs.

"We're not going to let that totally dictate our schedule," Huntington said. "I do not see us getting somebody else's pitching coach. Major league experience would be beneficial, but it's absolutely not mandatory."

Huntington said new coaches will be in place "well before" the annual Winter Meetings in early December.

Note: Right-hander Derek Hankins will replace Jimmy Barthmaier on the Pirates' Arizona Fall League roster. Hankins went 2-11 with a 4.53 ERA in 24 games (23 starts) for Double-A Altoona. ... Jason Bay is gone from thePirates but not forgotten. Bay, the left fielder who was dealt to the Boston Red Sox at the July 31 trading deadline, was chosen as the 2008 winner of the Chuck Tanner Award by the Pittsburgh chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America. The award recognizes the Pirates player whose professionalism, cooperation and availability best assist major league writers in carrying out their daily responsibilities. Finishing behind Bay were last year's winner, first baseman Adam LaRoche, and the 2006 winner, shortstop Jack Wilson, who missed about half the season with injuries. Bay, a native of Trail, British Columbia, played for the Pirates from 2003 until this season, twice making the NL All-Star team and starting the 2006 game in PNC Park. Bothered by a knee injury last year, Bay bounced back to hit .282 with 22 home runs and 64 RBIs in 106 games with Pittsburgh. He had a .293 average with nine homers and 37 RBI in 49 games for Boston.

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