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Hurdle turns attention to coaching staff

Hurdle turns attention to coaching staff

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PITTSBURGH -- After meeting his obligations with the media on Monday, new Pirates manager Clint Hurdle planned to sit back down with general manager Neal Huntington to continue piecing together a list of candidates for his 2011 coaching staff.

Without divulging specific names, Hurdle made it clear that he is considering a number of in-house candidates. That includes some who were on John Russell's coaching staff and others who have been coaches in the Pirates' Minor League system.

Retaining some coaches, Hurdle emphasized, is necessary in order to establish some continuity within the organization.

"It's a huge part for me to make sure that there are people internally that are available that we keep in place or that we promote from within," Hurdle said. "I think it sends a huge message to our player development program. There is some familiarity there that I don't have.

"There are some very qualified people. None of them do I know very well. That being said, that doesn't back me off of them whatsoever. We're going to make decisions that are going to show our belief in our player development people."

Don't expect the entire coaching staff to be selected internally, though. Hurdle also noted that he has already identified coaches he has existing relationships with elsewhere who could be ideal fits on his Pittsburgh staff.

None of the coaches from Russell's staff are known to have accepted another job yet, though all were told at the end of the year that they were free to explore other opportunities.

Hitting coach Don Long, bullpen coach Luis Dorante and third-base coach Tony Beasley each joined the big league staff with Russell prior to the 2008 season. Beasley is known to have one more year on his contract, though that isn't likely to affect any of Hurdle's decisions.

Ray Searage took over as interim pitching coach in August, the same time Jeff Banister assumed the job as the team's interim bench coach. Both are expected to be considered by Hurdle.

Banister was the other finalist for the Pirates' managerial opening, and Huntington suggested that a position will be available for Banister to return to the organization next season in some capacity. That position could be back on the Minor League side, where Banister spent the previous eight seasons as the organization's Minor League field coordinator.

"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."

The Pirates did not establish a timetable for these additional hires, though the process will begin immediately.

"We'd like to work as quickly as we can to put the staff in place, but we have to make sure it's the right staff," Huntington said.

In identifying potential external candidates, Andy Hawkins, who coached with Hurdle in Texas, could be a name that pops up. Hawkins and Hurdle have the background of working together, and Hawkins spent numerous seasons as a Minor League pitching coach before joining the Rangers' big league club in 2009.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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