Pirates hire Hurdle as manager

The Pirates have picked Clint Hurdle as their new manager, agreeing on a three-year contract, and will introduce the former Rockies skipper at a news conference Monday.

Hurdle, the batting coach for the AL champion Texas Rangers last season, will replace John Russell, who was fired the day after the Pirates completed a 105-loss season — their worst in 58 years and their 18th consecutive losing season.

Russell’s 299 losses in three seasons matched the most in the club’s 123-season history.

With Hurdle going to the Pirates, the Mets likely will pare down to two finalists for their manager job instead of three, though the team still intends to interview Cardinals bench coach Jose Oquendo on Monday.

The Pirates, a young team with room to grow, are similar to what the Rockies were when Hurdle took over in 2002. Hurdle, 53, led the Rockies to their only World Series appearance in 2007 before getting replaced by Jim Tracy in ’09.

The Pirates interviewed eight candidates, but only Hurdle and longtime Pirates minor league field coordinator Jeff Banister remained in the running. Banister’s scant major league experience — two months as the Pirates’ interim bench coach this past season — was a major drawback.