Originally written on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 11/15/14
Plenty of Bucs news on Wednesday… The Pirates hired former shortstop Jay Bell as their new hitting coach. Bell replaces Gregg Ritchie, who left after this season to take the head job at George Washington University. Bell was a solid player and a fan favorite in Pittsburgh, and general reaction today seemed to be very much in favor of the hire. Of course, it’s impossible to say what kind of impact Bell will have as a hitting coach (probably very little), but he was a great bunter…so…he’ll probably work with the team a good bit in that area. You all know that I almost always hate bunting, but part of the reason is because the Pirates are usually terrible at it…so at least that will hopefully change. Anyway, regardless of the bunting thing or anything else, Bell seems like a quality guy to have on the coaching staff. He was the hitting coach for Arizona’s Double-A team this year and previously worked on the DBacks’ staff as a bench coach. As expected, the Bucs declined Rod Barajas‘ $3.5M 2013 option. It sounds like Neal Huntington doesn’t have any intention of bringing him back for less, either. Huntington will have to find a new backstop via free agency or trade to split time with Michael McKenry next season, since Tony Sanchez hasn’t hit much in Indianapolis yet. The Bucs also exercised Pedro Alvarez‘s $700K 2013 option (as expected). They also released Hisanori Takahashi. In addition to hiring Bell, the Pirates also made a few other coaching changes: Rick Sofield to 1B coach, Dave Jauss to “ML Coach”, and Luis Silverio (this year’s 1B coach) to Senior Advisor, Latin American Operations. Frank Coonelly made some comments on the controversial military stuff...during an interview in Altoona. Speaking of Altoona, Curve manager PJ Forbes won’t be returning to the team. He wasn’t “fired”, but was offered a lower job and turned it down.
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