Source: Cora leaving for Pirates

There seemed to be little doubt that Curve manager Joey Cora would return to the major leagues next season, with the only questions being where and in what role.

The Pirates, not wanting to let a baseball man of Cora’s caliber get away, made the move Tuesday to retain his services by promoting him to be the major league third base coach.

The Bucs did not announce the move Tuesday, but a source confirmed to the Mirror that Cora will take over the job on the big league staff.

Cora, 51, guided the Curve to a 76-64 record and playoff berth this past season as the club finished second in the Western Division. The team clinched a postseason berth on the final day of the regular season, then lost in the first round of the playoffs to Akron, three games to one.

“Joey is very honest,” utility man Jon Schwind told the Mirror on Tuesday. “He tells you what he sees and what he knows plays at the next level. He isn’t going to sugarcoat what needs to be said. His experience in the game has allowed him recognize what his players are capable of and what they can improve on to be effective on the field.”

Cora brought a wealth of coaching experience to the Curve, having been a major league coach for 12 seasons with the White Sox and Marlins. He was third base coach on the 2005 White Sox team that won the World Series under manager Ozzie Guillen.

Cora followed Guillen to Miami in 2012 but found himself out of a job after the season when Guillen was fired. Cora worked as a baseball analyst and in the Venezuelan Winter League the past few years before getting back on the field with the Curve this past season.

The Pirates fired third base coach Rick Sofield on Saturday and reassigned first base coach Nick Leyva in the organization. That opened up jobs on the big league staff, and Cora was an obvious fit given his experience.

Cora has extensive experience coaching third base in the big leagues, and he handled that role with the Curve as manager this past season. He also has interviewed for six major league managerial jobs in his career, including for the Pirates’ job when it went to John Russell in 2008.

“We learned a lot from Joey,” Schwind said. “Continuing to understand the importance of preparation was something we all improved with. Also, continuing to learn about how important effort is on a daily basis regardless of how your body or mind may be feeling.

“We had a number of wins this year that were solely based on a smart effort play and not always the big hit. Obviously, his experience in the game has given him a wealth of knowledge that enables the players to have the opportunity to learn something new from him every day.”