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Pirates

Pirates notebook: Pitching coach Ray Searage gets 2-year extension

| Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017, 7:09 p.m.
Pirates closer Felipe Rivero talks with pitching coach Ray Searage in the outfield during practice before a game against the Reds Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates closer Felipe Rivero talks with pitching coach Ray Searage in the outfield during practice before a game against the Reds Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017, at PNC Park.
Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Chris Stewart tags out Milwaukee Brewers' Domingo Santana at home during the third inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017, in Milwaukee. Santana tried to score on a hit by Eric Thames. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Chris Stewart tags out Milwaukee Brewers' Domingo Santana at home during the third inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017, in Milwaukee. Santana tried to score on a hit by Eric Thames. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

MILWAUKEE — Pitching coach Ray Searage agreed to a two-year contract extension, which will keep him on manager Clint Hurdle's staff through the 2019 season, sources Tuesday told the Tribune-Review.

Searage's current two-year contract was set to expire in October. Last week, Hurdle and general manager Neal Huntington got four-year extensions.

A former coach with Triple-A Indianapolis, Searage, 62, was named interim pitching coaching in August 2010. Three months later, he was retained as the full-time coach when Hurdle was hired.

In each season from 2013-15, the Pirates finished among the top five in the National League in team ERA. The staff's 3.21 ERA in 2015 was the second-best mark in the majors.

Rotation shuffled

Right-hander Trevor Williams' next start will be skipped, as the Pirates will go with a rotation of Chad Kuhl, Ivan Nova and Gerrit Cole this weekend against the Cincinnati Reds.

On Monday, Hurdle said he was mulling whether to give Kuhl (7-10, 4.21 ERA) extra down time. Instead, it will be Williams (6-8, 4.26), who Friday gave up four runs in 42⁄3 innings against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Runzler returns

After being away for nearly five years, left-handed reliever Dan Runzler on Monday climbed back on a big league mound.

“The coolest moment was seeing him run in, then handing him the ball and getting out of the way,” Hurdle said.

Runzler's return was quick. He needed only two pitches to get Stephen Vogt to pop out and end the eighth inning.

“For a reliever, quick's usually a good thing,” Runzler said with a grin. “I had some good butterflies going. I was able to soak it all in once I was done, sitting in the dugout.”

A ninth-round pick in 2007, Runzler, 32, made 89 appearances for the San Francisco Giants. He bounced around in the minor leagues with Arizona and Minnesota, then pitched for the independent Sugar Land Skeeters in 2016.

“Lots of ups and downs,” Runzler said. “There was some doubt that crept in at times. I never questioned that my stuff wouldn't play. I wasn't using smoke and mirrors to get the ball by people. I just needed to be more consistent.”

Runzler's arsenal — fastball, curveball, slider and changeup — hasn't changed. His mechanics evolved, especially after he worked with Searage during spring training.

“I had gotten away from what I was when I was successful,” Runzler said. “After I got hurt (in 2011), I altered my mechanics trying not to get hurt again and fell into some sloppy habits. It snowballed from there.”

The mound at Miller Park where Runzler worked Monday is the same spot where he made his big league debut in 2009.

“It's a weird, culmination-type thing,” Runzler said. “It's been a different kind of journey, but I'll take it.”

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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