The teams is expected to give manager new deal despite late collapses in past two seasons
February 19, 2013 3:00 PM
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle sneaks up on infielder Anderson Hernandez at drills Feb. 14 at Pirate City, in Bradenton, Fla. Hurdle, entering the final year of his contract, is expected to receive an extension through 2014 with a club option for 2015.
By Bill Brink Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Pirates plan to deepen their commitment to manager Clint Hurdle, who helped improve the team's record by 22 wins in two seasons but also oversaw consecutive tumbles from contention.
Hurdle, who is entering the final year of his contract, will receive an extension through 2014 with a club option for 2015, a baseball source said Monday.
Hurdle previously had a club option for 2014. The extension will pull him even with general manager Neal Huntington, who in September 2011 received an extension through 2014 with an option for 2015.
Though he did not speak directly about the extension, Hurdle said he and the Pirates had "early conversations" about his contract.
"I'm not too far ahead of myself right now," he said. "I'm humbled that we're having the conversation."
The deal is expected to be announced later this week. Pirates chairman Bob Nutting will be in Bradenton Wednesday and Thursday for an event at McKechnie Field and to address the team.
"I'm excited," said Clint Barmes, who also played for Hurdle when Hurdle managed the Colorado Rockies. "Especially this early in camp, to hear that they made a move and decided to go in this direction. Obviously very excited for him and his family, but it's good for the city, it's good for all of us."
The Pirates hired Hurdle, 55, to replace John Russell in November 2010. In 2011, the team improved to 72-90 after going 57-105 in 2010. The Pirates were seven games over .500 in late July of that year. Last season, their record reached 16 games over .500 in early August and the team remained in contention for a wild-card playoff spot until late in the season.
Hurdle also was at the helm for two consecutive second-half fades from contention as the streak of losing seasons reached 20 in a row. The Pirates were 51-44 July 19, 2011, but lost 10 games in a row around the trade deadline and went 18-38 in August and September.
In 2012, the offense struggled to score runs in April and May, but the team managed to reach June 1 with a .500 record. The offense reversed course in June and July, and by Aug. 8, the Pirates were 63-47. But a 20-39 record from Aug. 1 on ensured a 79-83 finish. The Pirates went a combined 38-77 after the trade deadline in Hurdle's first two seasons.
Hurdle spent one year as the hitting coach for the Texas Rangers before coming to Pittsburgh. Before that, he managed the Rockies from 2002-09, compiling a 534-625 record. His only winning season as a manager came in 2007, when the Rockies stormed into the playoffs with a string of wins at the end of the season but lost the World Series to the Boston Red Sox.
The Rockies fired Hurdle 46 games into the 2009 season after they started 18-28.
"I know in Colorado, when we went through a rough start and they chose to go a different direction, we were all feeling it," Barmes said. "We were feeling it, too, going into the season. Everybody knew that if we didn't get off to a good start that it was a possibility."
The Rockies finished 92-70 and second in the National League West Division before losing to the Philadelphia Phillies in a NL division series.
"One of the conversations that was had the day I was let go there was, the last conversation I had with the players, I challenged them," Hurdle said. "I said, anybody's ambition or dream that has died that you can't win this division and go to the playoffs, if you feel that way, you're crazy. It was kind of ironic the way the season played out."
Hurdle said he wanted to help the Pirates fan base engage with the team, a process that has begun, but the team had yet to reach its on-field goals.
"We've taken some steps in that direction," he said. "There's still unfinished business."
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle is expected to get a contract extension despite second-half collapses the past two seasons.