The Pirates have hired Don Kelly to serve as the bench coach on Derek Shelton’s staff, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network. Kelly, 39, worked the 2019 season as the Astros’ first base coach, a role he accepted after beginning his post-playing career as an assistant in the Tigers’ player development department.
Kelly, a native of the Pittsburgh area, made his Major League debut with the Pirates but spent the majority of his playing days with the Tigers. Kelly will succeed Tom Prince, whom the Tigers hired to manage in their minor league system.
Many view Kelly, who has made a quick ascent up the coaching ranks, to be a future manager, but he’ll have to cut his teeth in the Pittsburgh dugout for the time being. Joining first-time manager Derek Shelton in the dugout, there’s not a lot of experience between the two. However, with the franchise in a transformative state, Shelton and Kelly should have opportunities to grow alongside the players.
Kelly’s hire continues the Pirates’ organizational overhaul under new general manager Ben Cherington, who has been able to hand-pick some of his staff given the coaching turnover. The upper ranks of the Pittsburgh organization will have a drastically different look this offseason and beyond, as Cherington and Shelton will be joined by new team president Travis Williams and assistant GM Steve Sanders.
In one last note on the Pittsburgh coaching staff, Kelly will join coaches Joey Cora, Rick Eckstein, and Justin Meccage, all of whom have been retained, per Adam Berry of MLB.com. Cora and Eckstein will remain in their current posts as third base coach and hitting coach, respectively, while Meccage will shift to a yet-undetermined role after previously serving as an assistant pitching coach. With former pitching coach Ray Searage out, the team has yet to identify a replacement.