Russell preparing for a return to Pittsburgh

Jenifer Langosch/

The Pirates will celebrate the 40th anniversary of their 1971 World Series Championship when the Orioles come to town for a three-game series that begins on Monday. But the meeting between the Pirates and Orioles has another plenty intriguing storyline…

This will be John Russell’s first time back on the PNC Park field since being fired as the Pirates’ manager after the 2010 season. Russell, who spent three years managing in Pittsburgh, was hired to be the Baltimore’s third base coach during the offseason.

Here are some of Russell’s thoughts in advance of that return…

“It will be interesting, I guess. I’m not anxious about it or nervous about it or not looking forward to it. It will be nice to see some things. There are some people who are probably happy that I’m not there anymore, but you hear that as well. It’s part of the business it’s part of what I do.”

On what type of reception he expects: “I think a lot of people understood what we were trying to do when I was there. I think the people that realized that, understood we were doing what we thought was the right way to do it. We got younger every year, so unfortunately wins and losses didn’t add up, which when you are that young is going to be tough to do. But I think a whole lot of people understood that, so I don’t know [what the reaction will be]. I’m going to wait and see.”

On how he reflects back on his time in Pittsburgh: “It was a great opportunity. I thought we did a lot of really good things for a lot of players. A lot of players who were there when I got there were struggling a little bit, like Xavier Nady, Jason Bay and Damaso Marte. [We] kind of turned it around for them where they were very valuable on the trade market, got some decent players in return. So I look at it more as it was a great experience for me. Very positive.  I enjoyed what I did and really believed we were headed in the right direction. It’s part of the game, it’s part of the business…No matter what your plan is, no matter how young you are, or what your payroll is the bottom line in the Major leagues is wins and losses.

On whether he is surprised by the Pirates’ success this season: “No, they got some pretty good piece to go with [the young players]. That was kind of the plan, to develop young players and as they develop go out and add pieces to them. And they went out and added a first baseman, another outfielder, guys solidified the rotation. And basically that was our plan. Unfortunately, I’m not there anymore to see it through. But, no [I’m  not surprised]. The young players were getting better. The second half of the season last year we started to show a lot of improvement. We played close to .500 ball at the end of the season. So you could see it. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen quick enough in my case. But surprised? No. They have some talent, some good young talent. You knew the more they played, the better they’d get.”

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB


More words than JR said his entire time in Pittsburgh…

I think Clint Hurdle is a better choice than JR imo. But I still say it’s the ownership not the players or managers fault.

If I was Mr. Excitement, I wouldn’t be looking forward to returning to a town that prides itself on it’s sports teams. He taught our new players nothing. I think he’s a great guy, just not a great manager.

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