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Pirates lose game of "I've got a secret''

By Sheldon Published: June 18, 2010

PITTSBURGH: Why would the Pirates sign their two highest profile executives to contract extensions and keep it secret?

That still wasn't clear one day after club president Frank Coonelly announced that one year had been added to General Manager Neal Huntington's contract, through 2011, and an option for 2011 on manager John Russell's contract was being exercised. The weird part is that Coonelly made these moves last October but never made the news public and told Huntington and Russell not to squeal.

But an anonymous source told FoxSports.com about Huntington's extension on Thursday, and the club was forced to reveal what should have been known to everyone.

The timing couldn't have been worse for the Pirates, who had lost 10 games in a row and made it 11 Thursday night, hours after the announcement by Coonelly had taken place. In recent weeks, it had been speculated in the media that Huntington and Russell would not be retained beyond this year and might not make it through the season.

These types of rumors, of course, would have been moot had the public been aware of the contract extensions. Instead, the team seemed to blame the press for the negative talk about Huntington and Russell, who have presided over a club that is 152-237 during their tenure.

Coonelly didn't really offer much praise for the two and seemed to be issuing them a warning: ""Contracts are irrelevant. If we believe someone isn't getting the job done, a contract won't prevent us from doing what needs to be done. We'll make a change.''

Huntington, a former assistant GM in Cleveland, has been criticized for many of his trades and signings, but Coonelly has direct input and the final say in every move.


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