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.