Hurdle has seen both ends of it


Clint Hurdle has been in this spot before. Earlier today, he was introduced as the Pirates’ 39th manager during a media confab at PNC Park.

“I have been on the front end of these press conferences. I have been on the back end of these press conferences,” said Hurdle, who was hired as the Rockies’ skipper in 2002 and fired early in the 2009 season.

“The guy coming in always says, ‘We’re going to do this and we’re going to do that.’ If you replay the tape, the guy before him said the same things. I have respect for the men who came before me. I am well aware of the history. I know where the Pirates organization has been, I know where it’s traveled, where it is now and where we want to go.”

Here are some other highlights from the presser:

»»» Hurdle has gotten inspiration from JoePa: I’ve been carrying this quote in my pocket for 12 years. It’s very appropriate today that I share it with you. It’s from a football coach from down the road. His last name is Paterno and he’s had a little bit of success. Joe said, ‘You’ve got to believe deep in yourself that you’re destined to do great things.’ Three times, I’ve been involved in the last game of the season — as a player, a coach and a manager. I’ve been a part of losing that game three times. The fourth time is what my eyes are on. Yes, it’s down the road. How far, I don’t know. But the fourth time will be a charm.”

»»» Hurdle and his family plan to buy a house in the Pittsburgh area — a strong sign he intends to be around a while. Ex-manager John Russell owns two homes, but neither is in Pennsylvania. One’s in Texas and the other is near the Pirates’ spring training site in Bradenton, Fla.

»»» Hurdle grinned — he was expecting this question — when asked whether he’ll have the authority to hire his own coaching staff or if he must retain a coach or two from Russell’s gang.

“Sometimes when guys are hired, they bring six or seven guys with them,” Hurdle said. “I don’t know what kind of message that sends to the player development staff. It’s a huge part for me to make sure there are people internally who we keep in place or look at first to promote from within. It would send a huge message to our player development personnel. It would establish some continuity (because) there’s familiarity there that I don’t have. We didn’t get any guarantees. We just talked about getting the right people in the right spots. There are a couple people I’d like to bring in who I trust and who I think would be a very good fit for the Pirates organization.”

In tomorrow’s Trib, I’ll identify three likely members of Hurdle’s staff. Only one is from outside the club.

»»» GM Neal Huntington was asked what separated Hurdle from the other job finalist, Jeff Banister: “There really was no single factor. It’s the person he is, the fit, the intelligence, the passion, the commitment to doing it the right way, the leadership, the presence, the charismatic personality, the intensity, the ability to communicate, the fact that he’s been there and done that in a market very similar to this one.”

»»» Owner Bob Nutting danced around a direct answer when asked if Hurdle’s hiring came with an assurance of a significant player payroll boost: “We didn’t talk in terms of guarantees,” Nutting said. “We talked in terms of commitment, making sure he understood the direction we’re headed. We have a commitment to create a team that can compete. He understands that plan. He understands we’ve been infusing talent into the organization. And he’s enthusiastic about the core of players we have. He knows we need to bring in (more talent). Having Clint on board is a critical step, as he provides the leadership, energy and enthusiasm to help this young team jell together and fulfill their potential.”