Saturday, November 3, 2007
Updated: November 5, 4:35 PM ET
Sources: Russell to be named manager of Pirates
ESPN.com news services
John Russell, manager of the Philadelphia Phillies' Lehigh Valley Triple-A club, will be named manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates, sources confirmed for ESPN.com on Saturday.
The Pirates are expected to officially introduce Russell, a former Pirates third-base coach, at a Monday morning news conference at PNC Park, according to the Beaver County Times. Russell managed Lehigh Valley the last two seasons.
Russell, 46, will succeed Jim Tracy, who was fired Oct. 5 after two seasons with one year remaining on his contract. The Pirates lost 95 games in 2006 and 94 games this season.
Russell's hiring is the first major move by new Pirates general
manager Neal Huntington, who took over with 10 days left in the
regular season. The Pirates spent nearly a month looking for
Tracy's successor and had been the only remaining team in the
majors without a manager following the Dodgers hiring of Joe Torre.
The Pirates settled on Russell only a day after being told by
Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell that he wasn't interested. The
Pirates had delayed their search until they could talk to Farrell
after the World Series. Farrell once succeeded Huntington as
Cleveland's director of player development.
Russell's hiring was a surprise because he was let go as a coach
by the same team that, after only a few weeks under new leadership,
now has decided he's a better fit to be their manager than he was
to be a coach. Russell was the Pirates' third-base coach and
catching instructor from 2003-05.
At the time, Russell was unpopular among some Pirates fans
because of the frequency of runners he waved home that were thrown
out at the plate.
On Saturday, the Pirates began calling the other finalists to
tell them they weren't getting the job. They are believed to have
talked with Triple-A Indianapolis manager Trent Jewett, plus
Chicago White Sox bench coach Joey Cora and Indians third-base
coach Joel Skinner.
The 46-year-old Russell, a former major league catcher who once
caught one of Nolan Ryan's no-hitters, spent eight years as a
Minnesota Twins minor league manager. He interviewed with the
Phillies for their manager's job after the 2000 season.
Russell became a Pirates coach after leading Edmonton to the
Pacific Coast League title in 2002. He was chosen by Baseball
America as the best managerial prospect in the minors after that
season. The publication also chose him as the best Double-A
managerial prospect in 1999.
Russell played for the Phillies, Braves and Rangers from
1984-93, hitting .225 with 34 homers and 129 RBIs in 448 games. A
career backup, he never played more than 93 games in any season.
Tracy was fired with one year left on his contract after his
teams lost 189 games in two seasons. The Pirates have had 15
consecutive losing seasons, one short of the major league record.
They have had four managers during that time: Jim Leyland, Gene
Lamont, Lloyd McClendon and Tracy.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.