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Pirates hire Jeff Branson as hitting coach

The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Jeff Branson as their assistant hitting coach.

Denis Poroy

The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Jeff Branson as their assistant hitting coach, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported via Twitter on Friday. Branson will join rookie hitting coach and former Pirate Jay Bell.

Branson spent the last four years as the hitting coach with Triple-A Indianapolis, and has good familiarity with the young hitters on the Pirates' roster.

Bell played eight of his 18 seasons with the Pirates as a player. He holds the Pirates' record for sacrifice bunts in a season.

Last year, the Pirates' offense ranked No. 14 out of 16 National League teams in batting average and on-base percentage. As a team, they hit just .243 and ranked 23rd in Major League Baseball with just 651 runs scored. It's not exactly the worst offense in baseball with a lineup led by All-Star Andrew McCutcheon, but it is going to be an uphill climb for the two regardless.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.