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Pirates' GM, assistants will return, Coonelly says

The SportsXchange

The Pittsburgh Pirates will not be making any changes at the upper levels of the front office despite a second straight late season collapse.

Pirates president Frank Coonelly said Wednesday that general manager Neal Huntington and assistant GMs Kyle Stark and Greg Smith will return for the 2013 season. Manager Clint Hurdle will also return.

Huntington has two years remaining on a three-year contract extension he signed last September that also includes a club option for 2015. Hurdle will enter the final season of the three-year contract he received when he was hired as manager in September 2010, unless the Pirates extend his deal in the offseason.

The Pirates have gone 6-18 in September. They are also 13-32 since moving a season-high 16 games over .500 at 63-47 on Aug. 8.

The Pirates have gone 33-73 during August and September the last two seasons.

The Pirates were eliminated from playoff contention with their 6-0 loss to the Mets at New York on Wednesday night. With a 76-79 record, they will have to win five of their last seven games to avoid a 20th straight losing season, which would extend their North American professional team major sports record.

The Pirates have also come under fire recently for having their prospects go through intensive Navy SEAL training during the first three days of their Florida Instructional League program. Baseball drills did not begin until the fourth day in Bradenton.

"There will unquestionably be changes made to the way in which we operate as a result of this thorough critical self-evaluation, but we will not be making personnel changes at the very top of our baseball operations department," Coonelly said in a statement. "Neal, Kyle, Greg and Clint are dedicated and intelligent baseball men in whom I have great confidence."

The Pirates have bettered their win total for a second straight season. They were 72-90 last season after going 56-106 in 2010.

"For the second consecutive year, we put ourselves in an excellent position to meet our objective of winning our division but did not play nearly well enough during the last two months of the season to accomplish it," Coonelly said.
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