Russell to be back with Bucs in 2010

Updated: February 22, 2009, 3:25 PM ET
Associated Press

BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Pittsburgh Pirates picked up manager John Russell's contract option for 2010 despite going 67-95 in his first season.

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General manager Neal Huntington called the decision easy, although the club has been in spring training only a week.

"J.R. met or exceeded expectations in his first year as the Pirates manager," Huntington said Saturday. "His club worked hard to play the game properly and battled from the first out until the last. His leadership, knowledge, attention to detail, ability to see the big picture and passion for things being done the right way made him the ideal choice as our manager a year ago."

The 48-year-old Russell, a former major league catcher, replaced Jim Tracy on Nov. 5, 2007. Tracy was let go after the Pirates lost 189 games in 2006 and 2007. Russell's contract was for two seasons, with the option for 2010.

"I appreciated the opportunity to be part of what we all believe is a great organization," Russell said. "Things are headed, definitely, where we want them to go."

Russell is the Pirates' fourth manager since 1997. Pete Mackanin was interim manager for 26 games in 2005.

"The past few years, we've had a lot of coaches come through the organization," second baseman Freddy Sanchez said. "There comes a time when you have to be stable. This is a first step in that direction."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press