Clint Hurdle won the National League Manager of the Year award Tuesday after guiding the Pirates to the playoffs in their first winning season since 1992.
Hurdle was a runaway winner, selected first on 25 of 30 ballots from a Baseball Writers’ Association of America panel. Don Mattingly of the Dodgers came in second and Fredi Gonzalez of the Braves finished third.
‘‘It’s a bit overwhelming,’’ Hurdle said in an interview on MLB Network. ‘‘It’s humbling. It’s gratifying from an organizational standpoint.’’
It was the first Manager of the Year honor for the 56-year-old Hurdle. His highest finish had been third in 2007, when he led the Rockies to the World Series.
The only other Pittsburgh manager to win the award was Jim Leyland in 1990 and 1992, the bookends to three consecutive division titles.
After that, they endured a record 20 straight losing seasons — the longest drought in any of the four major professional sports — before going 94-68 this year to capture an NL wild card.
Riding a wave of excitement from a rejuvenated fan base in a city finally enthralled by baseball again, Pittsburgh beat the Reds in the wild-card game before losing to league champion St. Louis in a division series that went the full five games.
‘‘I said it’s the greatest coaching opportunity in all of sports — the opportunity to be part of a select group of men and women that re-bond a city with a ballclub,’’ Hurdle said. ‘‘Three years almost to the day that I said it, it’s starting to happen.’’
Marlon Byrd is a Phillie
Marlon Byrd is cashing in on his comeback season. Byrd and the Phillies agreed to a $16 million, two-year contract, a deal that comes less than a year after he was playing in Mexico’s winter league. The 36-year-old outfielder hit a career-high 24 homers last season for the Mets and Pittsburgh, which acquired him on Aug. 27. He batted .364 with one homer and five RBIs in six playoff games after hitting .291 during the season with 88 RBIs, one short of his career best. ‘‘Marlon adds a significant upgrade both offensively and defensively to our outfield,’’ Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said in a statement. ‘‘He has been particularly productive against lefthanded pitching, which was a serious challenge for us this past season.’’ Byrd was drafted by the Phillies and began his big league career in Philadelphia . . . The Reds reached agreement with catcher Brayan Pena on a two-year deal. Pena, who turns 32 in January, has played for the Braves, Royals, and Tigers during his nine-year career.
Robinson Cano to go?
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman concedes that they could be out-bid for free agent second baseman Robinson Cano. Cashman said at baseball’s annual gathering of general managers in Orlando that the Yankees will make a substantial offer but another team could offer more. Cashman doesn’t expect Cano to make a quick decision . . . Hal Steinbrenner is concerned about Derek Jeter’s recovery from a broken ankle but is confident the Yankees captain will return to his form prior to the injury 13 months ago. Jeter broke his left ankle Oct. 13, 2012, during the ALCS opener against Detroit. He didn’t return until July 11 and wound up on the disabled list three more times because of quadriceps and calf injuries and what appeared to be ankle pain. He’ll turn 40 next June. ‘‘Given his age and given the severity of the injury, I think we all have concerns,’’ Steinbrenner, the team’s managing general partner, said. ‘‘But if anybody is going to succeed, it’s going to be Derek. Nobody is tougher, and nobody is going to work harder to get back.”
Collisions a target
MLB executive vice president Joe Torre says momentum is gaining toward taking action that would help prevent collisions at home plate. Torre said a written proposal will be developed that will be discussed at the winter meetings next month. ‘‘When it gets to the rules committee, you’re going to have very understanding people there, a feeling that something has to be done,’’ he said . . . Torre also said MLB is confident players and umpires will agree to expanded replay for the 2014 season, and that he expects deals to be in place by January. Virtually all umpires’ calls other than balls and strikes, and foul tips will be reviewable. It’s not yet clear whether umpires will be the ones reviewing the video at a central installation. Owners are expected to give their go-ahead Thursday for funding the expanded replay . . . Blue Jays infielder Mark DeRosa is retiring after a 16-year major league career. The team announced DeRosa’s decision in a statement, less than two weeks after Toronto exercised the 38-year-old's $750,000 club option for next season . . . The Rangers completed their coaching staff by hiring Bengie Molina as first base coach and catching instructor. Molina finished his 13-season playing career in 2010, when he was acquired from San Francisco in a midseason trade and played in the Rangers’ first World Series.