Pirates add Cora, Bartee, Prince to coaching staff

October 29th, 2016
Joey Cora managed the Pirates' Double-A Altoona affiliate to a 76-64 record in 2016. (AP)

PITTSBURGH - Coming off a disappointing season, the Pirates completed a fairly aggressive overhaul of their Major League coaching staff on Saturday. The Bucs announced the additions of bench coach Tom Prince, first-base coach Kimera Bartee and third-base coach Joey Cora.

Dave Jauss, manager Clint Hurdle's bench coach last season, will remain on staff as a quality-control coach, the role he served before being promoted to bench coach. Brad Fischer was bumped off the coaching staff and offered a job on the Pirates' player development staff, but he has not yet accepted that position.

"All three of these moves will enhance the consistency and cohesiveness, top to bottom and bottom to top, and that was something that was very important to Clint as we went through this offseason," general manager Neal Huntington said.

Prince, a former Pirates player and Minor League manager, spent last season - his 33rd in professional baseball and his 23rd in the Pirates organization - as their field coordinator, a job that essentially involved coaching the Bucs' Minor League coaches. He managed for 11 years in the Bucs system, most recently as Cora's predecessor in Altoona in '15.

Prince, 52, has spent the last 13 seasons as a coach or manager in the Pirates' Minor League system. Drafted by the Pirates in 1984, he played for Pittsburgh from 1987-1993 and spent parts of 17 seasons in the Majors.

"Brings a wealth of knowledge, a wealth of experience, to that position. Brings presence, experience, knowledge, passion," Huntington said. "All three of these guys, in a different way, bring an edge and a sense of urgency to the club."

Cora, who managed the Pirates' Double-A Altoona affiliate this year, will take over for Rick Sofield at third base after Sofield's dismissal last week. Cora, a longtime Major League middle infielder, will also serve as Pittsburgh's infield coach, a role previously held by Nick Leyva, who was moved from the first-base coach's box to the front office last week.

The 51-year-old will bring plenty of experience to the position. A first-round Draft pick by San Diego in 1985 out of Vanderbilt University, Cora played 11 years in the Majors as an infielder for the Padres, White Sox, Mariners and Indians. His post-playing career took him back to the dugout, where he served as a manager in the Mets system before joining the White Sox coaching staff under manager Ozzie Guillen in 2004.

In Chicago, Cora worked as Guillen's third-base coach and bench coach. Cora won a World Series with the White Sox in 2005. He joined Guillen again in Miami, serving as the Marlins bench coach in 2012. The Pirates brought in Cora this year to manage their Double-A club, and Cora led the Curve to a 76-64 record.

"Joey Cora brings a wealth of experience as a player, coach, bench coach, instructor," Huntington said. "He joined us a year ago and added to our system tremendously."

Bartee, 44, was the Pirates' Minor League outfield and baserunning coordinator for the past nine seasons. In addition to his work at first base, Bartee will serve a similar role on the big-league coaching staff as the Bucs' outfield and baserunning coach.

Bartee also managed for short-season Class A State College in 2011. He spent six seasons as a player with the Tigers, Reds and Rockies before beginning his Minor League coaching career in the Orioles organization. He joined the Pirates in 2008.

"Kimera has a great relationship with our three outfielders, which is obviously crucial," Huntington said. "Another guy that brings a wealth of knowledge -- not only of the game, but of our system and our structure, how we do things and how we intend to do things going forward."

The Pirates' entire coaching staff was under contract for 2017. The rest of the group - Hurdle, pitching coach Ray Searage, bullpen coach Euclides Rojas, bullpen catcher Heberto Andrade, hitting coach Jeff Branson and assistant hitting coach Jeff Livesey - is expected to return next season. As is Jauss, albeit in a different - but no less important - role.

"He'll be in close contact with Clint and each member of our staff to make sure that we are executing our plan, that we are doing what we said we were going to do," Huntington said. "It's a reassignment of a skill-set. David sees the game as well as just about anybody that I've been around, and Clint has had similar praise, so that's a role that's become really important for us as we work to find ways that will make us better."