Hurdle, Huntington praise departing Banister

Respected bench coach will take reins as manager of Rangers

Hurdle, Huntington praise departing Banister

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle and Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington, whose support for Jeff Banister had a lot to do with his hiring by Texas, wished well to the new Rangers manager with gratitude.

"On behalf of the Pirates organization," Huntington said, "we want to thank Jeff for his long-standing impact and dedication. His leadership, character, work ethic, knowledge of the game, energy and passion made us better every day he was a Pirate. We wish Jeff and his family nothing but success with the Texas Rangers."

Huntington's rundown of Banister's assets echoed the impressions of Rangers GM Jon Daniels as he detailed the reasons Banister stood out among the eight candidates to formally interview for the job.

In his conference call with reporters, Daniels also dropped a reference that had to swell with pride members of a Pirates organization that until last year bore the stigma of the longest dry spell in American team sports history.

"When you bring in someone from a successful program," Daniels said, "you hire the individual, but you also benefit from his experiences in helping build that success. Jeff was a big part of the Pirates' success, of helping their plan reach fruition."

Justice on Banister to Rangers

Video: Justice on Banister to Rangers

If Hurdle has been the architect of that success, Banister, as his bench coach, was a senior partner.

"He has been an instrumental reason for the success the Pirates organization has had over the course of his tenure with the ballclub," Hurdle said. "Jeff has put forth as much sweat-equity and hard work into the game of baseball as any man I have had the privilege of working with.

"We believe it will be an excellent fit for him and the Texas Rangers," Hurdle added.

As for the Pirates finding a replacement as Hurdle's wingman, it should be a quick process. There are multiple in-house candidates: Third-base coach Nick Leyva is a former big league manager; coach Dave Jauss has been bench coach with the Mets, the Dodgers and the Orioles; and Dean Treanor has earned points with his work as Indianapolis manager.

There is also one outstanding external option: Recently dismissed Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, a tight friend of Hurdle's ever since the two of them were teammates on the 1983-85 Mets.

Daniels noted that Hurdle and Huntington, as well as club president Frank Coonelly, were among the "15-to-20 people we talked to, and they exclusively all had a ringing endorsement of Jeff."

Banister had anticipated the opportunity to manage as a way of honoring the organization with which he had spent the last 29 years.

Earlier this month, although disappointed when the Houston Astros bypassed him in favor of A.J. Hinch, Banister was already looking forward to the next chance.

"The greatest compliment I could pay to the Pittsburgh family, the people who taught me, is to take what we have done here and put it to use in another organization," Banister had told at the time. "If someone asked me to interview for their job, it would be the ultimate compliment to Clint and to Neal and to Frank and to [club chairman Bob Nutting]. To take what we have created here and apply it elsewhere."

That's precisely what Daniels expects from his new skipper.

"Our top criteria was someone who could create a winning culture," said Daniels, borrowing a favorite mantra of the Hurdle-Banister regime. "Jeff Banister is the right fit, the right guy to lead us."

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.