The Pirates announced on Friday that they have extended their entire coaching staff through the 2017 season. The club did not announce a new contract for skipper Clint Hurdle, though Hurdle was already signed through the 2017 season himself, whereas the coaches’ contracts ran through the end of the current campaign. The new contracts mean that bench coach Dave Jauss, pitching coach Ray Searage, hitting coach Jeff Branson, third base coach Rick Sofield, first base coach Nick Leyva, bullpen coach Euclides Rojas, assistant hitting coach Jeff Livesey and bullpen catcher Heberto Andrade will all return for another season. Searage, in particular, has become particularly notable in the national media due to Pittsburgh’s success in rehabilitating pitchers that have endured recent struggles (though the Bucs did lose noted pitching specialist Jim Benedict to the Marlins’ front office this past winter).
A few more notes out of the NL Central…
- Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant underwent an MRI this morning which confirmed that his right ankle sprain is mild in nature, writes MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat. Bryant is out of the lineup today in favor of Javier Baez and may miss a few games, tweets Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, but the reigning National League Rookie of the Year isn’t expected to require a trip to the disabled list and should be back in relatively short order. Obviously, that’s good news for a Cubs team that has already lost Kyle Schwarber for the season and had to place catcher Miguel Montero on the 15-day disabled list yesterday.
- As we’ve heard recently, the Cubs and ace Jake Arrieta remain far apart in extension talks. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman (via Twitter) says that Arrieta remains focused on securing a seven-year deal, as was the case back in Spring Training, but the team is currently only comfortable with offering the reigning Cy Young winner a four-year extension. That type of deal would run through Arrieta’s age-34 season, whereas Arrieta’s preferred contract length would extend into his age-37 campaign. Dominant as he may be, it’s understandable that the Cubs are hesitant to guarantee both Arrieta such a substantial amount through age 37, especially considering the fact that with free agency about 18 months away and a huge salary already in the bank, Arrieta and agent Scott Boras probably don’t feel the need to offer a considerable discount in terms of average annual value. Beyond that, the Cubs are already paying Jon Lester into his age-36 season, and promising that type of cash to a pair of pitchers into their late 30s is wrought with risk for the team.
- Though he started the Brewers’ third game of the season, right-hander Taylor Jungmann was optioned to Triple-A by Milwaukee today, the team announced. The 26-year-old made a very strong debut in 2015, logging 119 1/3 innings with a 3.77 ERA, 8.1 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 and a 46.3 percent ground-ball rate, but he’s struggled tremendously in 2016. Thus far, Jungmann has yielded 21 earned runs in 20 2/3 innings, and he’s walked as many batters as he’s struck out (13). His velocity is also down two and a half miles per hour from last season. The Brewers called up reliever David Goforth in the interim, but they’ll need to make a move to add another starter in advance of Jungmann’s next would-be turn in the rotation, which would come on Tuesday. As MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy points out (on Twitter), Jungmann now faces the unenviable task of attempting to find the solution to his struggles in one of the game’s least-favorable pitching environments: Colorado Springs.