ShareThis Page

Pirates, defensive guru Hill parting ways

| Sunday, Oct. 18, 2009

Perry Hill won't be back with the Pirates next season — and he may not be coaching anywhere in the major leagues.

The Pirates announced Saturday that Hill, the renowned first base coach and infield instructor, won't be returning for a second season. General manager Neal Huntington also said the team has exercised Hill's contract option for 2010, which would prohibit him from coaching elsewhere next year without the Pirates' permission. Hill, though, will not be paid if he is not working for the Pirates.

"We exercised the option to protect our club's interest," Huntington said.

The Pirates also promoted Triple-A pitching coach Ray Searage to the major-league staff yesterday in an unrelated staff move.

Huntington said Hill was offered a job within the organization as a consultant and that he hasn't received an answer on that proposal.

"The Pirates made their statement. It was time for me to go. I won't be back with the Pirates next year," Hill said.

Hill's departure wasn't unexpected. He wasn't happy the infield was overhauled during the season, with three of the four starters being traded: shortstop Jack Wilson (Seattle), second baseman Freddy Sanchez (San Francisco) and first baseman Adam LaRoche (Boston).

Huntington said he "aggressively" tried to retain Hill, picking up the option year and "offering to restructure and extend his contract."

"Perry told us it was time for him to go home," Huntington said. "He said it wasn't about the money. He just really wanted to go home and be with his family."

Hill, 57, has spent 15 seasons coaching in the majors and 25 in professional baseball. He is considered one of the top infield instructors in the game. The Pirates finished the season with the best fielding percentage and fewest errors in the major leagues.

Huntington said he already has started interviewing candidates to replace Hill. One candidate is Tony Beasley, the Pirates' third base coach.

Searage, 54, will fill the coaching vacancy created when Rich Donnelly was let go at the end of the season. Searage, however, was hired to provide an emphasis on pitching.

"Ray is a quality, experienced coach who has had a positive impact on our pitchers already," Huntington said.

Searage was in Venezuela yesterday and unavailable for comment.

Searage has spent seven years in the Pirates' system and has 32 years of pro baseball experience, including seven as a major-league pitcher. He will work alongside pitching coach Joe Kerrigan, but Huntington said Searage isn't necessarily being groomed as Kerrigan's successor. Kerrigan has agreed to spend one more season on manager John Russell's staff.

"We would have made this move regardless (of Kerrigan's status)," Huntington said. "I don't want this to come across as Ray is the pitching coach in waiting. There are no guarantees here. Ray has to do a great job, which we think he will, and the timing has to work."

Kerrigan will mentor Searage, who is expected to work with the relief pitchers so Kerrigan can focus on the starting rotation.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.