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Pirates owner: Hurdle's extension is not a 'free pass'

The SportsXchange

The Pirates showed they have faith in Clint Hurdle being the man to continue their turnaround.

The third-year manager had another guaranteed season added to his contract for 2014 along with a club option for 2015. The original three-year contract Hurdle signed in November 2010 when he was hired to replace John Russell was set to expire after this season.

The Pirates' record has improved in both seasons with Hurdle as manager. They went from 57-105 in Russell's last season in 2010 to 72-90 in 2011 to 79-83 last season.

The Pirates haven't had a winning season or made the playoffs since 1992, when they won the National League East. The 20-year streak of losing seasons is the longest in North American professional sports history.

"I feel privileged to continue what we started," Hurdle said. "There's no place I'd rather be than in a Pirates uniform."

While the Pirates are 151-173 during Hurdle's two seasons, they are 114-95 through July 31 and just 37-78 afterward. That is a drop-off in winning percentage from .545 in the first four months of the season to .333 in the final two months.

Each season, the Pirates have been surprising leaders in the NL Central in July but have wound up collapsing at the end of the season. That is why the extension raised some eyebrows, especially in light of how 2012 played out when the Pirates went 15-35 in their final 50 games after being 16 games over .500 on Aug. 8.

However, Pirates owner Bob Nutting said there are expectations that come with the extension.

"The idea that somehow the extension is a free pass is exactly the message I would not want to send and not the message Clint heard," Nutting said. "We've shown we're willing to make a change if we need to, irrespective of the contract terms."
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