The Pirates made it official earlier today that Don Kelly, who was the Houston Astros’ first base coach this past season, will be the bench coach for the 2020 season, replacing Tom Prince.
Kelly’s name should be familiar to Bucs fans. He grew up in Mount Lebanon and played for Mount Lebanon High School and Point Park University before being drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 2001. The Pirates picked him up in 2006, and he played in Pittsburgh and Indianapolis in the 2007 season before spending time in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ minor league system and returning to the Tigers in 2009. He spent the majority of his major league career with the Tigers, becoming a fan favorite in Detroit, and a couple of years with the Miami Marlins before calling it a career in 2016. He returned to the Tigers as an assistant scout in 2017, becoming a full scout later that year. In 2018, he became the Astros’ first base coach.
With all the hometown ties, this seems to be a good move for Kelly both personally and professionally. He’s attracted positive attention as a major league manager in the making, and removing himself from the growing controversies surrounding the Astros can only be a good thing. His scouting background should come in very handy as well. It should be noted that not only does GM Ben Cherington seem to be assembling a good staff, he’s assembling a young one too, as Kelly’s only 39. Kelly’s hiring should definitely be taken as another encouraging sign that the Pirates are trying to right the ship in 2020.