Changes were expected from the Pittsburgh Pirates following their second consecutive collapse and while they aren’t the major changes that many Pirates’ fans may have been hoping for, the Bucs did make some changes to their coaching staff.
Former Pirates’ shortstop Jay Bell was brought on as the team’s hitting coach, replacing Gregg Ritchie, who left the organization to take the head coaching position at George Washington University.
Bell hit .265 in 18 MLB seasons and served as the bench coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks, whom he scored the winning run for in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, for two seasons (2005-06).
He would be one of the last guys you would think that would become an MLB hitting coach, but Bell always had a good knowledge for every aspect of the game, so hopefully it translates to the Pirates’ hitters. One thing Bell could help out in is basic fundamentals. During his career, Bell was an outstanding bunter and the Bucs have been a horrible bunting team for years.
In 2012, Bell served as the hitting coach for the Mobile BayBears, Arizona’s Double-A affiliate, and is currently coaching the New Zealand national team as they attempt to qualify for the World Baseball Classic in March
Bell will attempt to improve an offense that ranked 14th out of 16 National League teams in batting average and on-base percentage in 2012.
In addition to Bell, two other additions were made to the coaching staff.
The Bucs brought in Rick Sofield as the first base coach. Sofield managed the Pirates’ Class-A affiliate West Virginia Power this past season and has 25 years of baseball experience. He will replace Luis Silverio, who will remain with the organization as the senior advisor for Latin American Operations.
Finally, Dave Jauss will be a new major league coach. Jauss was a special assistant to general manager Neal Huntington last year has had past stints with the Mets, Dodgers, Orioles, Red Sox and Expos organizations.