Hill declines Bucs' offer to return

Hill declines Bucs' offer to return to staff

PITTSBURGH -- Despite the organization's attempts to keep him, Perry Hill has decided not to return to the Pirates next season.

Hill, who was under a one-year contract for 2009, just finished his first season as the team's first-base coach and infield instructor. He turned down an initial offer to stay in Pittsburgh back in late August when approached by the organization. Since then, the Pirates and Hill had continued to negotiate; as the club made it known that it wanted him to return.

"We made an aggressive attempt to bring Perry back, including exercising his option for the 2010 season and offering to restructure and extend his contract," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said in a team release. "Despite these efforts, Perry has decided that he does not want to coach.

"We respect Perry's decision, appreciate his service to the organization and remain open to Perry returning to theorganization if and when he desires to coach again." Under Hill, the Pirates' infielders made significant defensive improvement. Part of that was evident by the fact that the team finished the season with the Majors' best fielding percentage (.988) and fewest errors (73). The Bucs played 101 errorless games, which set a franchise record.

"I knew the kind of impact [Hill] could make," manager John Russell said during the final weekend of the season. "You saw the pride he had and how he handled it, and the passion he had in coaching. And he's continued that all year long. He's been phenomenal. He has made a tremendous impact. He's been a huge part of why our infield and our defense has gotten better."

The rest of the 2009 coaches have committed to return for another season.

The Pirates also announced Saturday that Ray Searage will join the big league staff and work closely with pitching coach Joe Kerrigan. Searage has spent the past seven seasons coaching in the Pittsburgh organization, including the past two as the pitching coach at Triple-A Indianapolis. Searage, 54, broke into the big leagues with the Mets in 1981 and posted an 11-13 record and a 3.50 ERA in 254 appearances over seven seasons.

"Ray brings years of experience to our big league staff," said Huntington. "He not only has spent the last seven years working with the pitchers in our system, but he has over 30 years of experience as both a Major League pitcher and Minor League pitching coach. His knowledge of the game in general, and the way he has handled our pitchers coming through the system, will further strengthen our coaching staff at the big league level."

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