Macha, Banister interviewed by Bucs

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The pool of candidates for the Pirates’ managerial opening moved to five after Ken Macha and Jeff Banister were both interviewed in Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

Macha, a native and current resident of Western Pennsylvania, has managed twice in the Majors previously. He guided the A’s to two division titles in his four years at the helm in Oakland. He was removed from the position in October 2006, following Oakland’s run to the American League Championship Series.

Macha, 60, was hired to manage the Brewers prior to the ’09 season, but after leading Milwaukee to a pair of third-place finishes in the National League Central, he was let go at the end of the 2010 season. In his six managerial seasons, Macha is a combined 525-447.

If the Pirates are seeking a manager with Pittsburgh connections, Macha has plenty of them. Not only did he grow up outside of the city, but he played collegiately at the University of Pittsburgh. The Pirates drafted him in 1972, and two years later, Macha made his Major League debut with the organization.

Macha’s playing career spanned six seasons. In 180 games for the Pirates, Expos and Blue Jays, he hit .258.

Banister, 45, may not have grown up in Western Pennsylvania, but his ties to the organization run even deeper than Macha’s. Banister just finished his 25th year with the Pirates, who drafted him in the 25th round of the 1986 First-Year Player Draft. Banister’s only Major League appearance with the club came on July 23, 1991, though he has served as a coach/instructor every year since 1994.

He was a Minor League manager for four seasons and served as the Pirates’ Major League Field Coordinator from 1999-2002. He then moved into a role as the organization’s Minor League Field Coordinator, which he held until becoming the Pirates’ interim bench coach in August.

Banister, along with the rest of the Pirates’ coaching staff, was told by general manager Neal Huntington after the season that while he could look elsewhere for job opportunities, he would be considered to be retained in some capacity. Asked by MLB.com if he wanted to remain with the Pirates, Banister didn’t hesitate.

“That’s an obvious yes,” he said. “There’s a lot of guys I know very well who’ve come up through our system that are there. They’ve developed, they continue to develop. They’re not finished by any stretch of the imagination. I’d love to continue that if Neal, [president] Frank [Coonelly] and [owner] Bob [Nutting] allow that to happen.

“My passion is for this organization and where I think we can go and where I think we are going. It’s unfinished for me. I grew up in this uniform and there are a lot of things I think we can and will do. I’m sure some people think we are a ways away. I see it every day, and I know we’re not that far away. There’s a really strong nucleus of talented athletes that take the field every day. There is some finishing that needs to go along with their Major League experience before they truly know what it takes to win on an every-day basis. Hopefully, I’m part of that, in whatever capacity that is.”

Banister and Macha join Eric Wedge, Bo Porter and John Gibbons as the five candidates to formerly interview for the managerial vacancy.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

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