The Pirates have fired third base coach Rick Sofield and reassigned first base coach Nick Leyva, per a team announcement. Leyva will take over as a senior advisor for baseball operations.
“It was a difficult decision, but we felt it was the right time to make this change on our Major League staff,” said general manager Neal Huntington (Twitter link via Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).
It was only a year ago that Sofield was in serious contention for the Padres’ managerial job, for which he was reportedly the favorite at one point. That position ultimately went to Andy Green, leaving Sofield to return to the Pirates for what proved to be his fourth and final year on manager Clint Hurdle’s staff. The 59-year-old Sofield, who previously managed the Pirates’ Low-A affiliate in 2012, was also Pittsburgh’s baserunning and outfield coach. Under Sofield’s watch this season, Pirates baserunners made the second-most outs in the league at third base and ranked last in taking extra bases on singles and doubles, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh-Tribune Review.
Sofield’s dismissal “blindsided” him, he told Biertempfel. “I’m heartbroken … but you’ve got to respect people doing that they think is best,” he added (Twitter link).
Sofield was the Pirates’ first base coach before switching roles with Leyva in advance of the 2015 season. Leyva had been part of Hurdle’s coaching staff since he took the helm as Pittsburgh’s skipper in 2010. Along with serving as the Pirates’ first base coach, Leyva was the club’s infield coach. In his new role, the 63-year-old will work as a minor league advisor, per Biertempfel.