Altoona manager Walbeck won't return in '11

Altoona manager Walbeck won't return in '11

MIAMI -- Matt Walbeck, who led the Pirates' Double-A affiliate to an Eastern League Championship this year, will not be returning as Altoona's manager in 2011.

Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said the decision not to retain Walbeck was made after the organization determined that there would be no immediate promotion available to offer him. According to Huntington, Walbeck had expressed interest in moving up in the organization.

"We discussed with Matt that we would not have an upper-level opportunity for him at the end of the year," Huntington said. "During the course of the conversation with [farm director] Kyle [Stark], it became apparent that it was best just to let him go ahead and explore other opportunities elsewhere. We certainly appreciate everything Matt has done in his two years here, and I wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors.

"As far as getting into the reasons behind why we made the decision that there wouldn't be an upper-level opportunity for him in the following year, that doesn't benefit anyone, certainly not Matt and not the Pirates. Out of respect of the process, we'll withhold comments on that. Matt has worked hard and deserves having success elsewhere."

Huntington was asked if the decision to part ways with Walbeck was the organization's choice or if it was Walbeck's decision.

"I wasn't a part of the conversation," Huntington said, noting that it was Stark who spoke with Walbeck on Wednesday night. "But when it became apparent that we weren't going to have an upper-level opportunity for him, with our blessing, we gave him the freedom to look elsewhere. It is certainly something he wanted to explore."

This was Walbeck's second season with the Curve and his fifth as a Minor League manager. An Altoona club devoid of many prospects finished 62-80 under him in 2009 before going 82-60 this year. Altoona recently defeated Trenton to claim its first championship.

Walbeck, whose teams have advanced to the postseason in five of his six seasons as manager, was named Eastern League Manager of the Year after the season.