Friday, November 7, 2008

The Only Constant Is Change...

The Pirates landed the guy they wanted from the get-go as their first base coach today, naming Perry Hill to their final coaching position.

The 56-year-old Hill has 14 years of MLB coaching experience with the Rangers, Expos, Marlins and Tigers. His last job was with Florida, where he served as the Marlins' first-base coach and infield instructor.

Hill will also wear the infield tutor cap for the Pirates. During his time with the Fish, four different Marlins - 1B Derrek Lee, 2B Luis Castillo, 3B Mike Lowell, and SS Orlando Cabrera - earned Gold Glove awards. The last Pirate IF to earn that honor was Jay Bell in 1993.

Bone, as he's known by the players, left Florida in 2007 to tend to some family business. Hill and his wife, Olivia, have a daughter, Alexis Madison, and a son, Perry Jr. They live in Lantana, Texas, between Dallas and Denton.

Hill didn't have much of a playing career. He balled for six seasons, five in the Mexican League with Reynosa and Saltillo, and one at Rio Grande of the Gulf States League. Hill played 622 games in Mexico, batting .257 with eight home runs and 228 RBI, and batted .194 in his minor-league season.

But hey, he's not the hitting coach.

He made his name as the roving infield instructor for the Rangers, and cemented it with the work he did at Florida. Hill even put out a DVD titled "Ultimate Infield," an all-level instructional video on the fundamentals of fielding.

And with all the soft-tossers on the Pirate staff, his performance may ultimately be as valuable to the Bucs as Joe Kerrigan's contributions.

BTW, though the MLB coaching slots are filled, the Pirates still have managing vacancies at AAA Indy, AA Altoona, and short-season A State College.

This comes as no surprise, but Chris Duffy recently filed for free agency in true Chris Duffy fashion. The Bucs sent the outfielder to Mexico for winter ball, but after playing in only three games, he left his Mazatlan team.

"He just didn't want to be there," Huntington explained. "The information that I have is that he just shut it down." Hmmmm...where have we heard that line before?

Duffy told the suits that he had no desire to return to the Pittsburgh organization that drafted him in the eighth round of the 2001 draft. And so ends the Duffy saga in Pittsburgh.

He joins a posse of Pirate minor league free agents. There are 26 Buc minor-leaguers on the market now, including Juan Mateo, Josh Shortslef, and Brian Holliday.

If you're curious about what farm team free agents are out there, Baseball America has all 561 of them listed. There's a bevy of former MLB players and ex-Pirates included.

You can bet Neal Huntington and Greg Smith are taking a good look.


WilliamJPellas said...

Duffy clearly has personal problems that are hurting him in a big way. Whatever else is true of him, he needs to get a handle on his issues. I think he's reached the stage at which we're talking "quality of life" more so than how well he plays baseball. I hope he hooks up with a good pastor or counselor and that he conquers the demons that are so obviously bringing him down.

Ron Ieraci said...

Yah, Will, though I suspect we're only getting one side of the story, it does seem like Duffy has gotten ground down. He may be physically able to play, but mentally, well, who knows where he's at?
I think that a combo of always being hurt and wanting to do things his way have taken the fun out of the game for him. And it is still just a game between the lines. When it becomes a rut, it's time to change careers.