Pirates’ Neal Huntington says he’s looking for ‘good baseball man’ to replace Clint Hurdle
First on Neal Huntington’s to-do list this offseason is finding a replacement for former manager Clint Hurdle, who was fired Sunday.
Huntington will get the chance to hire the second field manager of his 12-year tenure as Pittsburgh Pirates general manager. Hurdle replaced John Russell after the 2010 season.
“I really don’t want to give a script for those coming in the door to try to follow (Hurdle),” Huntington said. “We want to see these managers as who they are. We want them to come in the door and present what they would do with us and how they would help us get back to the postseason and how they would help us grow as an organization. I would prefer not to give a list of traits.
“Obviously it’s going to have to be a good man. It’s going to have to be a good baseball man. It’s going to have to be someone we believe can help us grow.”
Tom Prince, who was been the bench coach the past three seasons, managed the team Sunday after Hurdle was fired an hour before the game.
Huntington said Hurdle decided not to manage the game Sunday.
“We walked through some various scenarios and wanted him to do what he felt most comfortable doing,” Huntington said. “And he did that.”
Prince, 55, has been in the Pirates organization for 26 years, including seven seasons of his 17-year playing career as a catcher. He was a manager in the Pirates’ minor league system for 11 years, rising to Double-A manager in Altoona in 2015. He also has managed the team during Hurdle’s absences.
The only member of the Pirates’ baseball staff with permanent major league managerial experience is Jeff Banister, who is a special assistant in the baseball operations department. Banister, 55, managed the Texas Rangers from 2015-18 and led them to consecutive American League West championships in ’15 and ’16. He was fired after the ’18 season.
He has been in professional baseball for 34 years, including five as a manager in the Pirates’ minor league system. He was Hurdle’s bench coach from 2011-14.
Banister owns a 1.000 career major league batting average, having singled in his only career at-bat in 1991.
A long-shot candidate could be former catcher Jason Kendall, who spent nine years of his 15-season playing career in the organization. He recently expressed desire to be a major league manager after serving the Kansas City Royals as a special assignments coach from 2012-18.
“We’ll have some good candidates that are wearing some element of a Pirates uniform now,” Huntington said. “We’ll also have some good candidates that aren’t.
“Part of the process is learning new people. Part of the process is learning from the process. We’ll be looking internally. We’ll be looking externally.”
During the search for a manager, every aspect of the organization will be reviewed, he said.
“Our medical, our mental skills, our strength and conditioning, our decision-making process, our informatics (analystics),” he said.
“We are in the midst of assessing everything. It’s something that we do every year, but on the heels of a 90-plus-loss season, it’s that much more appropriate.”
Asked if Hurdle might have been considered for an advisory role with the Pirates, Huntington said, “We talked about a different role for him. Didn’t talk about that with him and ultimately came to the conclusion we came to. Our hope is that Clint will always have a tie to Pittsburgh fans and to the city of Pittsburgh and to the Pirates.
“But our hope is that he will always have a role in the fans’ hearts, in the players’ hearts, in the staff’s heart, the front office heart, because he’s earned that. He deserves that.”
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .