Pirates to hire Hurdle as manager

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The Pirates have hired Clint Hurdle as their new manager, SI.com has learned. The Pirates will announce the hiring at a press conference on Monday.

Hurdle spent 2010 as the hitting coach for the Texas Rangers, who led the majors in hitting, were fifth in runs scored and advanced to the World Series.

Hurdle managed the Rockies from 2002-2009 and compiled a 534-625 record. He had one winning season in Denver, taking his 2007 team to the World Series after winning the wild card in a one-game playoff. The Rockies went 90-73 that season, then swept the Phillies and Diamondbacks in the playoffs before being swept by the Red Sox in the World Series.

The Pirates fired John Russell after three last-place finishes in three years. Pittsburgh has not enjoyed a winning season since 1992 and lost 105 games last season, the most for the franchise since 1952.

The Pirates interviewed eight candidates, but only Hurdle and longtime Pirates minor league field coordinator Jeff Banister were in the running. Banister's scant major league experience - two months as the Pirates' interim bench coach this past season - was a major drawback.

The team preferred an experienced manager to handle a group of promising young players - Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker, Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata - that has minimal talent surrounding it. Last season, Pittsburgh had the majors' worst ERA (5.00), second-lowest team batting average (.242) and tied for the most errors (127).

Hurdle, 53, was scheduled to have a second interview with the Mets, the only other club seeking a manager. He apparently decided to take a firm offer from the Pirates - apparently, for three seasons - rather than wait to see if he would get the Mets' job.

Hurdle has declined to comment about either opening. Former Astros and Angels manager Terry Collins is believed to be a leading candidate for the Mets job, with Bob Melvin in contention.

Hurdle is highly regarded for his work with young players, a quality the Pirates were seeking with a stream of additional prospects reaching the majors as early as 2011. They have spent heavily on draft picks the last three summers.

Hurdle played 10 seasons in the majors, hitting .259 with 32 homers and 193 RBIs after once being regarded as one of the top young players in the game. He began managing in the minors in 1988, one year after retiring as a player. He became the Rockies' batting coach in 1997 and replaced Buddy Bell as manager in 2002.

Hurdle was fired on May 29, 2009, following an 18-28 start, and was replaced by Jim Tracy, the Pirates' manager before Russell was hired. During Hurdle's one season with Texas, the club led the majors in hitting and was fifth in runs scored.

The Pirates interviewed Hurdle on Nov. 4, then waited until he interviewed with the Mets last Wednesday.

Hurdle also serves as a spokesman for the Prader-Willi Foundation, which helps those born with a chromosomal disorder that can cause muscular and appetite problems. His daughter, Madison, 8, has the disorder. A Pittsburgh-based facility, the Children's Institute, is considered to be one of the nation's top providers of care for those with Prader-Willi syndrome.

Former Indians manager Eric Wedge was the first to interview with Pittsburgh, but he later took the Seattle job. The Pirates also interviewed John Gibbons, Ken Macha, Bo Porter, Carlos Tosca and Dale Sveum.

The Pirates have lost at least 94 games in each of the last six seasons.