The Pirates announced today that they hired former shortstop Jay Bell as their hitting coach, replacing Gregg Ritchie. They also promoted Rick Sofield to first base coach and added Dave Jauss to the coaching staff.
Bell will attempt to improve an offense that ranked 14th out of 16 National League teams in batting average and on-base percentage in 2012 and suffered a historic dry spell to start the season.
Bell, 46, played 18 major league seasons, including eight with the Pirates. He still holds the Pirates' record for sacrifice bunts in a season. He is currently coaching the New Zealand national team in its quest to qualify for the World Baseball Classic.
Sofield managed Class A West Virginia in 2012. He will replace Luis Silverio, who will become a senior advisor to the Pirates' Latin American operations. Sofield will also oversee base-running and outfield instruction.
Sofield faces the task of improving the Pirates' poor base-running and maximizing the speed of Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte, as well as solidifying Marte and Jose Tabata's outfield defense.
Jauss served as a special assistant to general manager Neal Huntington this season, at times acting as an advance scout. He previously served as a bench coach for the New York Mets, Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers.
Bill Brink: firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @BrinkPG First Published October 31, 2012 12:15 AM