Source: Pirates to hire John Russell as manager
By ALAN ROBINSON, AP Sports Writer
November 3, 2007
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- John Russell, let go by the Pirates as their third-base coach only two seasons ago, will succeed Jim Tracy as Pittsburgh's manager, a source with knowledge of the hiring told The Associated Press on Saturday night.
Russell, who lost his previous job in Pittsburgh following former Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon's firing in September 2005, will be introduced at a news conference Monday. He managed the Phillies' Triple-A team the last two seasons.
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 following 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 following the 2000 season.
Russell became a Pirates coach after leading Edmonton to the Pacific Coast League title in 2002. He was chosen as 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.