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Little, Young join Pirates' baseball-operations staff

SAN DIEGO -- Many teams checked into this year's Winter Meetings with growing legions of personnel executives, and the Pirates have kept up with two fresh hires for their baseball operations.

The new voices and sets of eyes assisting general manager Neal Huntington belong to former big league manager Grady Little, hired as a senior advisor, and former Pittsburgh first baseman Kevin Young, in as special assistant.

"Grady brings years of in-dugout experience. He'll be a great advisor for me," Huntington noted of the man who was the Indians' bench coach when Huntington was Cleveland's farm director. "And Kevin is not too far removed from playing at the Major League level, so he brings a player's perspective. He's had success in Pittsburgh and wanted to come back to the Pirates organization."

The two men's contributions will extend far beyond the roles they will play here or in future personnel decisions. Considerations to bring Little aboard began before the season, and went into high gear when Brad Fischer, the club's Minor League field coordinator, was added to manager Clint Hurdle's big league coaching staff.

"Part of Fischer's role was being a mentor to our Minor League staff, and Grady will fill part of that role. As we talked about adding this type of a person, Grady's name kept coming up," Huntington said.

While Young will also assist on the Minor League level, it is worth remembering that he was drafted in 1990 as a third baseman and dabbled at that position before dropping anchor across the infield in 1998. That is the move now being attempted by Pedro Alvarez.

"Kevin will be in and out of Major League camp, and [helping Alvarez's transition] could be one of the things we have him attack," Huntington said.

Little, 64, has been out of baseball since being let go following the 2007 season by the Dodgers after guiding Los Angeles to an 82-80 record. Little compiled a record of 358-290 in four seasons of managing, two each with the Red Sox and the Dodgers.

Known and appreciated for his folksy nature, Little since had characteristically returned to his Charlotte, N.C., roots, happily coaching the baseball teams at tiny Hickory Grove Christian, which all three of his grandsons attend.

Young, 45, spent 11 of his 12-year career with the Bucs, batting .259 with 136 homers and 583 RBIs between 1992-95 and 1997-2003. Most recently, he has been associated with the Cal Ripken Baseball League in his Scottsdale (Ariz.) hometown and oversaw baseball activities for an online sports training concern.

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer.
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