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Pirates

Pirates bench coach Banister interviews for Astros manager job

| Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014, 12:21 p.m.
Pirates bench coach Jeff Banister (right) leaves the field with manager Clint Hurdle after defeating the Braves Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014, at Turner Field in Atlanta. The Pirates have given Banister permission to interview for the Houston Astros manager job.
Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
Pirates bench coach Jeff Banister (right) leaves the field with manager Clint Hurdle after defeating the Braves Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014, at Turner Field in Atlanta. The Pirates have given Banister permission to interview for the Houston Astros manager job.

CINCINNATI — Pirates bench coach Jeff Banister has completed two interviews with the Houston Astros, indicating he might be a frontrunner to fill their vacant manager position.

The Astros fired Bo Porter on Sept. 1.

Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said it was an easy decision to grant permission for the Astros to interview Banister.

“We believe Jeff will be a major league manager, be it here or somewhere else,” Huntington said Saturday. “We'd hate to lose him, but we fully support him getting an opportunity. He's a great leader and a great man. A part of our responsibility to our staff is to help them achieve their professional goals. If that means they move on, that's a tough step we have to take.”

In November 2010, Banister was a finalist for the Pirates' job, which went to Clint Hurdle. Banister was hired as Hurdle's bench coach and is in his 29th year with the organization.

“Jeff is as valuable to our team as anybody,” Hurdle said. “The sweat equity, the knowledge, the wisdom. As far as game strategy, compiling information and acting as a sounding board for me, he has been outstanding.

“This guy is going to manage in the big leagues. I'm going to do anything I can to help him with that opportunity. He's gifted in a lot of ways and has been an invaluable asset for me.”

Banister, 50, lives in the Houston area and attended the University of Houston. He was drafted by the Pirates in the 25th round of the 1986 draft.

After serving as a player/coach for Double-A Carolina in 1993, Banister was hired as manager of short-season Class A Welland in 1994. In his five years as a manager at the A and Double-A level, Banister's teams went 299-330. He managed in the Hawaiian Winter League in 1995-96 and is slated to manage this year in the Arizona Fall League.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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