The Pirates announced this afternoon that they have given contract extensions to manager Clint Hurdle and general manager Neal Huntington. Both are now signed through 2017 with club options for 2018.
Here’s part of the announcement from Pirates President Frank Coonelly:
“Neal and Clint have led a team of baseball professionals, in the front office and on the field, that has transformed the Pittsburgh Pirates into a club that again must be reckoned with in the National League,” said Coonelly. “We are extremely pleased that they will continue to lead this team in Pittsburgh.”
“I have a tremendous amount of personal respect and appreciation for the impact that Neal, Clint and their staffs have had on our organization,” said Pirates Chairman Bob Nutting. “My expectation has been and remains that they, led by Frank, will continue to play a lead role in our success for years to come.”
Hard to say it’s not deserved, as the good feelings are flowing in Pittsburgh after a 94-win season and the team’s first postseason appearance since 1992.
Huntington has been senior vice president and general manager of the Pirates since September of 2007. There have been some lean times for the franchise, but the hard work his begun to pay dividends, with exciting young players on the major league roster and a strong farm system in place. Hurdle has been manager of the Pirates since the 2011 season and owns a 248-242 record (.506 winning percentage) at the helm.
Brewers closer Corey Knebel set a modern major league record for relievers to start a season, as Thursday’s appearance marked his 38th consecutive appearance with a strikeout. He set down the side in order in the ninth inning, striking Josh Bell out to start the frame.
Aroldis Chapman held the record previously, recording a strikeout in his first 37 appearances of the season in 2014 with the Reds.
Knebel, 25, has flown under the radar despite having an incredibly good season. He moved into the closer’s role in mid-May when Neftali Feliz, now a free agent, struggled. After Thursday’s appearance, Knebel is 12-for-15 in save chances with a 0.96 ERA and a 65/17 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings.
Despite having hit at least 20 home runs in eight of his 11 seasons in the majors, Reds first baseman Joey Votto has never participated in a Home Run Derby. Currently, he’s tied for the National League lead in home runs with 20, and he hasn’t been invited to this year’s festivities at Marlins Park.
In the event he is invited, Votto said he thinks he can win it, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto likened himself to Ichiro Suzuki, a player known more for his contact abilities and mastery of the strike zone than power. “Just think of me as the Canadian Ichiro — Japan has theirs and Canada has theirs,” Votto said. “I could pull homers into the seats at will.”
Along with the 20 homers, Votto is currently hitting .306/.419/.601 with 53 RBI, and 52 runs scored in 313 plate appearances.
Teammate Scott Schebler also has 20 home runs at the moment and Adam Duvall, who made it to the semifinals of the Derby last year, has 16. Neither of them have been approached about participating in the Derby, either. Per Rosecrans, in the event each was invited, Duvall said he would consider participating if he wasn’t an All-Star and Schebler would participate regardless. Votto said he would only participate if he made the All-Star team.