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Russell wants to see Bucs' turnaround through

Russell wants to see Bucs' turnaround through

PITTSBURGH -- As John Russell nears the end of his third season as the Pirates' manager, plenty of speculation swirls about whether he will return for a fourth year at the helm in 2011.

Russell is under contract through next season, though Pirates president Frank Coonelly said earlier this year that the contract status of any team employee won't dictate job security. It will be Coonelly, along with general manager Neal Huntington, who will decide whether to retain Russell. A final decision is likely to be made soon after the end of the regular season.

While Russell's primary focus is helping his team finish the season on a high note, he is already thinking about what lies ahead for this organization in 2011. And, as Russell emphasized on Thursday, he wants to remain a part of it.

"I've said it a million times -- the day I start worrying about my job is the day I stop doing my job well," Russell said. "I can't worry about that. I'm under contract for next year and fully intend to be here. I don't see any reason why I wouldn't be here, in my mind.

"I'm sure there are a lot of people who would disagree with that, since everybody has their opinion. There's some really good things going on, and I'd like to be a part of that and expect to be a part of that."

Media and public speculation about Russell's job security is largely the byproduct of the team's performance under him. Russell led the club to a 67-95 record in 2008 and a 62-99 mark last season. The Pirates are on the cusp of losing 100 this season, sitting at 98 with 11 games left.

Russell's start in Pittsburgh wasn't made any easier by a plethora of changes to the Major League roster. Under the direction of Huntington, Russell lost almost all of his starting position players through trades by the end of 2009. He was left with a talented, young core, but also with a group of mostly non-established Major League players.

Having seen the rebuilding effort from the start, Russell now expects to see it through. He is a fervent believer in the direction of the organization and feels that -- despite a step backward record-wise this year -- that the club is closer to success than it was when he was hired after the '07 season.

"It's not a matter of 'if' but a matter of 'when,' and it's closer than a lot of people think," Russell said. "Absolutely, I want to be here. I would like to be here, because I've watched it grow. Whether I'm here or anybody else is here, it's going to happen."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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