New manager also set to add Leyva as bench coach from Toronto
November 22, 2010 5:00 AM
Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press
The Pirates are retaining pitching coach Ray Searage.
By Dejan Kovacevic Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The bulk of the Pirates' coaching staff under new manager Clint Hurdle will be familiar faces.
Sources confirmed Sunday that the team is set to retain Ray Searage as pitching coach, shift Jeff Banister to third base coach, promote Gregg Ritchie from the minors to be hitting coach and, in the only outside move, hire Nick Leyva as bench coach.
The rest of the positions -- first base coach and bullpen coach -- remain up in the air, though the role of first base coach and outfield instructor could go to another internal candidate, Kimera Bartee, the current minor league outfield and baserunning coordinator. It is not expected that any other members of the previous coaching staff will be retained.
Searage, 55, made a strong impression on the pitchers, as well as management, upon taking over when Joe Kerrigan was fired Aug. 8. The starters did their best work of the season under his tutelage, notably long-struggling Charlie Morton. Some pitchers openly lobbied management to keep Searage.
Ritchie, 46, had been the Pirates' minor league hitting coordinator the past three years and, thus, worked with all of the team's top young players on their way to the majors. That continuity, according to one source, was important to management. This will represent Ritchie's first experience in the majors, as was the case for his predecessor, Don Long.
Banister, 45, was the other finalist for the manager's job that went to Hurdle last week. A 25-year employee, he had been the Pirates' minor league field coordinator for eight years until taking over as bench coach in August when Gary Varsho was fired.
Leyva, 57, is the only outside addition, having been bench coach last year in Toronto under Cito Gaston after serving parts of two seasons as the Blue Jays' third base coach. It is believed that Leyva was Hurdle's choice for right-hand man. He was a minor league infielder in his playing days
Most coaching staffs in Major League Baseball are racially and ethnically diverse. Leyva is a Mexican-American born in California and fluent in Spanish. Hurdle, too, speaks Spanish. Bartee is African-American.