The 2019 season was not a positive one for the Pittsburgh Pirates. They finished last in the N.L. Central with a record of 69-93. Looking to spark a new way of winning, the Pirates hired Minnesota Twins bench coach Derek Shelton, who is no stranger to baseball.
Shelton’s MLB history
The Illinois native has spent several years working under various managers and organizations. He worked as a hitting coach with the Cleveland Indians and Tampa Bay Rays. In 2016, Shelton headed across the border to the Toronto Blue Jays as the quality control coach for the 2017 season. Finally, he spent the last two seasons with the Minnesota Twins serving as their bench coach. With plenty of experience under his belt, Shelton assumes his new role as a first-time general manager for the Pirates.
Changing the Culture
Coming off a losing season leaves plenty of room for improvement. The new skipper’s approach to creating a winning team is to change to the culture and attitude of the organization.
— Alexa Harley (@AlexaHarley3) March 4, 2020
Establishing a player-centric clubhouse is Shelton’s first step towards a winning season. The Southern Illinois alum hopes to create an empowering atmosphere and work directly with his players to generate victories.
Learning from the best
Working under different managements, one tends to pick up tips and tricks from previous experience. Shelton has operated under managerial greats like Joe Maddon and Paul Molitor, as well as the younger generation of managers including Kevin Cash and Rocco Baldelli. Fans may be able to spot their influence in Shelton’s game strategies.
One defensive tactic may be utilized by the new skipper, and that is the four-man outfield, otherwise known as ‘the shift‘. Maddon liked to use this often in his days with the Rays, and its success may influence Shelton to experiment with it against various sluggers.
“I think you take things from everybody you’re with…so I think with different people, you take different parts out,” – Pirates Manager
When you hop around the Major Leagues as much as Shelton does, you tend to overlap working with certain players. One pitcher, in particular, has worked with the rookie manager in the past–Chris Archer. Before Shelton solely focused on the offense, now he has the opportunity to work directly with the pitching ace.
2020 season on the horizon
While they may have a split-squad today, the Pittsburgh Pirates head to Port Charlotte to take on the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday. This match-up may serve as a preview for opening day. These two teams will face-off to attain the first win of the 2020 season on March 26 at Tropicana Field.