Pirates Make Coaching Changes

The Pittsburgh Pirates today announced that bench coach Gary Varsho and pitching coach Joe Kerrigan have been relieved of their duties effective immediately. Pirates Assistant Pitching Coach Ray Searage will serve as the interim Pitching Coach while Pirates Minor League Field Coordinator Jeff Banister will serve as the interim Bench Coach.

"Both Gary and Joe are quality baseball men who have worked hard during their time with the organization. However, JR felt strongly, and I agreed, that they were no longer the right fit for our staff and a change at this time was in the best interests of the club," said Pirates GM Neal Huntington.

"It was a very gut-wrenching decision," Russell explained. "There are some issues that I've been working through for quite some time now that could not be resolved. Or resolved in a way that was going to be for the betterment of this team. I respect both men greatly, I lost two friends today. That's tough to deal with, but again my main focus is this team and this organization and I felt moving forward that this was the time to do this. With about a third left of the season I wanted to accomplish something the rest of this year moving into next year."

Searage joined the Major League staff this season after spending the last seven years as a Pitching Coach at various levels within the Pirates minor league system. Prior to joining the Pirates, Searage served as a pitching coach in the Florida Marlins, Tampa Bay Rays and St. Louis Cardinals systems. He pitched a total of seven seasons in the big leagues and is currently in his 33rd year of professional baseball and eighth in the Pirates organization.

Banister is in his 25th season as a member of the Pirates organization. He spent each of the last eight years serving as the organization's Minor League Field Coordinator following four years of serving as the club's Field Coordinator at the Major League level (2002-06). This past season, Banister managed the Scottsdale Scorpions to a second place finish during the Arizona Fall League.

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