No changes in Pirates front office

Pirates' GM Neal Huntington

The Pirates will not be making any changes at the upper levels of the front office despite a second straight late season collapse.

Pirates president Frank Coonelly said Wednesday that general manager Neal Huntington and assistant GMs Kyle Stark and Greg Smith will return for the 2013 season. Manager Clint Hurdle will also return.

Huntington has two years remaining on a three-year contract extension he signed last September that also includes a club option for 2015. Hurdle will enter the final season of the three-year contract he received when he was hired as manager in September 2010, unless the Pirates extend his deal in the offseason.

The Pirates have gone 6-18 in September. They are also 13-32 since moving a season-high 16 games over .500 at 63-47 on Aug. 8.

The Pirates have gone 33-73 during August and September the last two seasons.

The Pirates were eliminated from playoff contention with their 6-0 loss to the Mets at New York on Wednesday night. With a 76-79 record, they will have to win five of their last seven games to avoid a 20th straight losing season, which would extend their North American professional team major sports record.

The Pirates have also come under fire recently for having their prospects go through intensive Navy SEAL training during the first three days of their Florida Instructional League program. Baseball drills did not begin until the fourth day in Bradenton.

"There will unquestionably be changes made to the way in which we operate as a result of this thorough critical self-evaluation, but we will not be making personnel changes at the very top of our baseball operations department," Coonelly said in a statement. "Neal, Kyle, Greg and Clint are dedicated and intelligent baseball men in whom I have great confidence."

The Pirates have bettered their win total for a second straight season. They were 72-90 last season after going 56-106 in 2010.

"For the second consecutive year, we put ourselves in an excellent position to meet our objective of winning our division but did not play nearly well enough during the last two months of the season to accomplish it," Coonelly said.

Notes, Quotes

2B Neil Walker sat out for a second straight game Wednesday night because of lower back soreness as the Pirates lost to the Mets 6-0 at New York. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said there is a possibility that Walker will not play in any of the season's final seven games. Walker is unable to play in back-to-back games and has started just six times in September.

LF Starling Marte returned to the staring lineup Wednesday night after being limited to pinch-hitting duty a night earlier because of knee soreness. The injury is not considered serious and Marte should be able to finish out the season. However, manager Clint Hurdle said he would like to see the rookie have better at-bats and show a greater overall focus in the season's final days.

LHP Jeff Locke has made nine career starts without recording his first major league win after taking the loss Wednesday night. Locke was tagged for five runs and nine hits in 3 2/3 innings in falling to 0-3 with a 6.35 ERA this season and 0-6 with a 6.40 ERA in his career. Tommie Sisk is the only Pirates pitcher since 1960 to have a longer winless stretch at the beginning of his career—he went 12 starts from 1962-65 without a victory. Sisk had a 40-49 lifetime record with the Pirates, San Diego and White Sox from 1962-70.

RHP Joel Hanrahan has 36 saves but just three since Aug. 9. It isn't because of poor performance. Hanrahan has had only three save opportunities in that time as the Pirates have gone 13-32. He has pitched 15 times in that span and has posted a 1.93 ERA.

RHP Kevin Correia (11-10, 4.11) will face Mets RHP R.A. Dickey (19-6, 2.66) on Thursday in the finale of the four-game series. Correia is 10-5 with a 3.80 ERA in his last 18 starts after going 1-5 with a 4.81 ERA in his first eight starts and is making a good impression as he gets set to enter free agency at the end of the season.

By The Numbers: 3—Pirates players with at least 25 home runs (3B Pedro Alvarez and CF Andrew McCutchen each have 30 and 1B Garrett Jones has 25). It's just the second time in team history they've had that many. In 1966, Willie Stargell hit 33 home runs while Roberto Clemente had 29 and Donn Clendenon had 28.

Quote To Note: To be mentioned with those three names is pretty special. It means a lot to the three of us."—1B Garrett Jones, referring to Stargell, Clemente and Clendenon.

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