PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Struggling to get his brand new number 17 jersey over his dress shirt, new Pirates Skipper Derek Shelton quipped as the camera shutters clicked, “This has never gone smoothly for any manager that has ever done it.”
After making the hire last week, the Pirates officially introduced new manager Derek Shelton to Pittsburgh.
His managing road has taken him through Cleveland, Tampa, Toronto, and Minnesota before arriving in Pittsburgh to finally become the Skipper of the Pirates.
Shelton and his family arrived at different times and in each case their driver told them to take in the view coming out of the Fort Pitt Tunnel.
“We all came in at night and the Christmas Tree is lit up and Heinz Field was lit and the stadium is lit up and just to see how prideful three gentleman are in the city, I’m just excited to be here,” he said.
Especially since the selection process was a bit nerve wracking for his family.
“I will say and my wife will say I have the cleanest garage of anyone in Florida because I’ve cleaned it about 15 times,” he said.
Pirates front office staff joined Shelton at the press conference Wednesday morning as the offseason is about to heat up.
“Today, the Pirates introduce Derek Shelton as the 41st Manager in team history.”
Today, the Pirates introduce Derek Shelton as the 41st Manager in team history. https://t.co/QTlGyjfzH4
— Pirates (@Pirates) December 4, 2019
WATCH THE FULL DEREK SHELTON INTRODUCTORY PRESS CONFERENCE HERE:
As the Pirates considered Shelton, General Manager Ben Cherington says they talked with players from every step of Shelton’s managing resume.
“All kinds of different players spoke with conviction about Derek as a coach,” said Cherington. “As someone who can connect with all kinds of different people and cares about players getting better.”
Shelton, 49, has 15 years of coaching experience at the MLB level, but this will be his first manager job of his career. He was with the Minnesota Twins since the start of the 2018 season as the bench coach. He spent one season as the Quality Control Coach for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2017. He served as a hitting coach for a couple of teams before that, working for the Cleveland Indians from 2005-2009 and the Tampa Bay Rays from 2010-2016. Before coaching, Shelton was a minor league catcher for a couple of seasons in the New York Yankees organization.
— Derek Shelton (@DerekShelton8) December 4, 2019
“New Pirates Skipper and family! Welcome to Pittsburgh. Pledging a fun clubhouse dedicated to winning hear from the new manager @5&6 @KDKA”
— John Shumway (@KDKAShumway) December 4, 2019
Shelton will wear No. 17 for the Pirates. The number comes from his desire for his favorite number 8 (retired for Pops) or his son’s favorite number 9 (Maz’s of course) so they combined the two and came up with 17.
The new Pirate Skipper vows to change the clubhouse culture by getting to know the players: “We’re going to have fun. You’re going to see us laugh. It’s going to be a fun place to be around and based on the players I’ve been talking to the last couple days they’re excited about it.”
Shelton says he’s talked to several players in person and about a dozen more by phone, laughing as he pointed out that “sometimes they don’t answer an unknown number. So I have to shoot them a text and tell them who it is and get a call back. So I’m in that process.”
As for meeting fan expectations, who want the team to return to the winning ways of 2013, 14, and 15 Shelton says, “Expectations are awesome and if you have a market where the expectations are that you’re playing meaningful baseball in October, I’m all in on that.”
Shelton says in addition to the tunnel view, Pirates Pitcher Joe Musgrove took him to lunch yesterday.
“I had my first Primanti’s so I’m probably not going to eat for a couple days,” he said. “I’m just excited to take it all in.”
He thought he’d learned the names of the triplet bridges, “Clemente, Warhol, and Rogers, right?”
He had to be told that Mister Rogers doesn’t have his own bridge yet — it’s Rachael Carson.
And when it comes to our rivers? “The Allegheny, right? Can you give me the other two,” he laughed.
Oh, and don’t bother telling the Pirates manager to choose a home where he doesn’t have to drive through a tunnel to work.
“I think about 40 people have told me that so far,” he said.