BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Pirates announced today that they exercised Clint Hurdle's 2014 contract option and added a club option for 2015. Neal Huntington spoke to reporters earlier this afternoon.
Why not more than one year?
It’s a good match with my situation, it’s a good match for where we are right now. There are some longer term deals out there. Clint’s not afraid to manage on a one-year deal, he’s not afraid to manage on a two-year deal.
Important for players not to see him as lame duck
Some players may consider a guy on a five-year deal a lame-duck guy. Our focus was, we believe he’s the right manager for us. He’s carried us forward. He’s allowed us to take significant steps forward as an organization. We feel like he’s the guy to take us to that next step, that final step, to going from arguably one of the worst teams in baseball when he came in here to playing meaningful games in September last year and to take that next step to playoff games in October.
On Hurdle’s managing style
Obviously he’s managed a long time. He understands the game, he’s ahead of the game. As with every manager his decisions don’t always work out, but he’s got a logic, a thought process, behind it. The communication, the passion, the energy, the experience he brings, the leadership that he brings to the role … and the other part of it is, he’s impacted more than just our major league club. It’s not just the 25-man roster. He’s impacted me, he’s impacted our leadership group, he’s impacted our development system, our scouting system just with who he is, the knowledge that he brings.
He’s impacted our fans. He came in with the goal to re-bond this city with it’s ball team. When we were winning in July it was a pretty strong bond being built. We’ve got to make sure we continue to take that next step forward and finish off the bond that Clint’s worked so hard to build.
Did you take the pulse of the clubhouse when deciding to extend Hurdle?
I think you’re seeing the general response has been favorable. You take the pulse of the clubhouse on a daily basis as you’re around the club in spring training, as you’re around the club in September, in the offseason, during our workouts, during PirateFest and the other opportunities we have to get together with our gys. It’s not a poll, it’s not a democracy. But I think our guys love playing for Clint. They recognize that he’s going to challenge them, he’s going to make them grow, he’s going t help them get better and he expects them to go out there and show up every day.
Hurdle helpful in recruiting free agents
Every free agent’s looking for a group that he can go become a part of. Now, if he’s on a one-year deal, I don’t think he really cares about whether anybody else is on a multi-year, but as you start extending players, as you start talking about cohesion, start talking about growing organizations, I think the stability’s always a nice thing. The bottom line, I think, Clint and I show up every day working to do our job to the best of our ability and believe the results will take care of themselves.
He’s a great recruiter of free agents because of who he is. because of the character he brings, the passion that he has for the city of Pittsburgh, the passion that he has for this organization, bottom to top, top to bottom. Any time we can get Clint on the phone with a free agent it’s a good thing for us.
Hurdle active in recruiting?
Clint is well-connected within the game. He can help us get information on players as we try to evaluate someone for a potential fit. He’s obviously been a tremendous hitting coach, he’s been a manager a long time. As a general manager a big part of my role is putting players in a situation to be successful, putting our staff in a situation to be successful. Clint absolutely has a voice in our evaluation process, our strategic planning process, he’s in all the meetings.
What steps is he taking to prevent second-half slides
We’ve got some adjustments we need to make as an organization. Controlling the running game, we’ve got to do a better job controlling the running game. It’s not just about quicker to home plate. It’s about varying our tempos, it’s about varying our picks, it’s about paying attention to it, understanding why it’s important, going out and executing that.
We’ve got to continue to evolve as an offense. We’ve got to bring in some good hitters, and we’ve done that, that are going to grind out at-bats, that are going to get us to bullpens quicker. The weakest part of the club is middle relief. The quicker we can get to middle relievers, the better we’re going to be, the more runs we’re going to score, the more pressure we can take off of our pitcher.
We believe we’re going to be better offensively. Better approaches, better discipline, better results at the end of the day. Is it going to be case by case, some guys are going to be better, some guys are going to regress, that’s the nature of the beast. But as long as we’ve got the collective unit, we’re getting better as a whole, then we’re moving in the right direction.
We’ve got to own the inner half [of the plate]. We’ve got to take back both halves of the plate. There’s some things that we absolutely can do physically. We’re working to make adjustments in our physical program, we’re working to make adjustments in our mental program, certainly we’ve talked about the fundamental adjustments. I’ve got to make sure we’ve got to bring in better players.
It’s on all of us. I’m ultimately responsible for everything. Clint’s gonna tell you he’s responsible for everything on the field. All of us have to be better at our jobs and we’ve got to get our players in a position to be able to carry that through for six months and work into that seventh month, which is the playoffs.
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