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Pirates manager Clint Hurdle on his vision and commitment to excellence

Pirates Introduce Clint Hurdle
Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Neal Huntington announced today that Clint Hurdle has been named the 39th manager in franchise history.
Hurdle, 53, spent parts of eight seasons (2002-2009) managing the Colorado Rockies, who advanced to the World Series under his leadership in 2007. He served as the hitting coach for the American League champion Texas Rangers in 2010.
“Clint Hurdle is an extremely intelligent, passionate, knowledgeable baseball man with proven leadership skills and ability to move this team forward,” Huntington said. “We are very pleased to hire such a quality man who will make an immediate and lasting impact on this organization.”
Hurdle who will add energy and passion to the franchise, was identified by the Pirates as a top candidate very early on in the process, and the Pirates patiently waited out the process and in the end, believe they got the right guy moving forward.
“We identified Clint early on in our process, ” GM Neal Huntington said. At the end of the process, we had two gentleman we felt very strongly about. We’ve heard tremendous things about Clint as we did our due diligence behind the scenes, talking to probably about 30 people about the man.”
Hurdle is regarded highly by those inside the industry and seen as a perfect fit for a young team.
“He’s a tremendous man, ” Huntington said. “He has the ability to help young men grow up and mature and be ready to take the next step….yet he’s also a person that can relate to veteran players and help them get better. He believes in being unified. He believes in cohesion. He believes in a lot of the same things we believe in.”
Hurdle said today he turned down an opportunity to interview with the New York Mets for a second time, this upcoming week in Orlando, because he saw Pittsburgh as the perfect fit.
“It’s a wonderful and perfect fit for myself, ” Hurdle said. “It’s the right decision, the right organization with the right people at the right time. I’ve always enjoyed my time in Pittsburgh.
” A challenge?….. Oh, it’s there. An opportunity?….. It’s there. But it’s a city that has predicated hard work and a blue-collar mentality, perseverance that has been real and an ability to overcome and grind through it. Perseverance has been a part of my life and my career. I asked my wife to marry me twice.”
Hurdle has a presence about him whose going to give his all to managing the Pirates, but hiring the right manager won’t turn the Pirates fortunes around. It’s a good first start but for Hurdle to succeed in Pittsburgh, it’s going to take a commitment from ownership to add quality MLB players.
“I know where the Pirates organization has been, ” Hurdle said. “I know the road that it has traveled. I know where it is now and I know where we want to go. I was asked some really tough questions, and I believe that I asked some very tough questions. I was extremely appreciative of the way the men defended the fort. They defended the work that had been done and the process that is in place.”
“It’s an exciting opportunity for me to be a small part of a group of people already in place to restore the legacy and tradition of Pittsburgh Pirates. As I revisit my childhood years and watching the Pittsburgh Pirates during those days, I always gravitated to the leadership in the dugout and the three men that I watched were Danny Murtaugh, Billy Virdon and Chuck Tanner.”
“We’re going to roll up our sleeves as soon as I get done with this.” “I’m all in. This wasn’t about taking a job because it was a sure thing. This was about taking an opportunity that felt right.”
“I’m not going to shy away from talking about a championship. I really don’t care what people think. In 2002, I had kids in my neighborhood getting beat up wearing Rockies jerseys. Those kids don’t get beat up wearing Rockies jerseys anymore, ” Hurdle said.
Hurdle is looking to establish a degree of accountability and responsibility from his ball club.
“I’m going to be upfront. I’m proud to be a Pirate. We’re not going to back down from anybody. We’re going to show up, and we’re going to play.
” Our focus is going to be on a commitment of excellence that is unique and that is real. We’re going to hold ourselves to a very high degree of accountability and responsibility, ” Hurdle said.
This morning, Hurdle wasn’t ready to make any predictions on when the Pirates are ready to win, but says building a winner starts with pitching.
“To put a time capsule on it, I don’t know, ” Hurdle said. “Give me a little more time to think…… I know players develop at their own pace. You always want them to develop at the top at the same time, but that’s not always the case.
“We’re always going to feel like we’re closer than a lot of people think. We’ve got to pitch. If you want to build a championship, you have to pitch and you have to field 27 outs. I also spent some time in Colorado where we sent three or four guys to the All-Star Game and finished in third or fourth place. That’s not championship baseball.”
However, Hurdle did say there are similarities between the Pirates current ball club and the 2007 Colorado Rockies.
“There are a lot of similarities to the situation that I’m walking into right here, ” Hurdle said. “You have a young nucleus of good players that grow up together, they learn together, they stumble together, they fight together and through it all, they emerge as champions together. In Colorado, it took us a while to get there, ” Hurdle said.
Notes: GM Neal Huntington said he hopes Jeff Banister will continue to play a role in the organization moving forward. “Jeff has done some unbelievable things for this organization, ” Huntington said. “He has made an impact and it’s certainly our hope that he will make an impact for us going forward.”
Banister is believed to be under consideration to join Hurdle’s staff. Hurdle said today he will strongly consider in-house candidates.
“One of the things that I’ve always found interesting is sometimes when managers are hired, they bring in six or seven guys with them, ” Hurdle said. “It’s a huge part for me to make sure that there are people internally that are available and we keep in place or that we promote from within. I think it sends a huge message to our player development program.”………
Pitching coach Ray Searge is also under consideration to remain on the staff.
It didn’t take long for former Pirates manager John Russell to find another job in the majors. Russell will be named the Baltimore Orioles bench coach this week……

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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