Hanrahan, Nunnally to join Ryan’s Curve staff

Michael Ryan will return for a third season as manager of the Curve, and he will have perhaps the most impressive coaching staff in franchise history.

“It’s exciting,” Ryan said of returning to Altoona. “In my opinion, it’s the best-run franchise in minor league baseball.”

Ryan, an Indiana, Pa., native, led the Curve to the 2017 Eastern League championship and regular-season division title last season. Being in Double-A here is a perfect fit for him.

“It’s close to home and very close to my heart,” Ryan said. “Every time I put the uniform on, I take it personal and want to have success there.”

Ryan’s two new coaches both bring a lot of major league experience to the Curve.

The pitching coach is former Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan, a two-time All-Star with the Bucs (2012 and ’13) who recorded 100 saves in his seven-year big league career.

The hitting coach is Jon Nunnally, who played six years in the majors and was the Cleveland Indians’ hitting coach from 2010-11.

Ryan also played in the majors, so not only did all three Curve coaches play in the big leagues, one was an All-Star and another coached at that level. That can be a big plus working with minor leaguers.

“I believe that carries a lot of weight, especially with younger players,” Ryan said of coaching staff’s experience.

“A player, what they’re going to do is google you and look at your stats and see that you played in the major leagues. That goes a long way to building some trust.”

Hanrahan had 40 saves for the Pirates in 2012 and 36 in 2013 to earn All-Star nods. He was traded to the Boston Red Sox, along with former Curve utility man Brock Holt, in December of 2012 for four players, including eventual Pirates closer Mark Melancon.

Hanrahan and Melancon (51 saves in 2015) are the only Pirates to reach 40 saves in a season.

Hanrahan developed a forearm injury early in the 2014 season, underwent Tommy John surgery and never pitched in the majors again. He began his coaching career two years ago and spent last season with low-A West Virginia.

“If I was a player, I would try to pick his brain,” Ryan said of Hanrahan. “When you see All-Star beside a player’s name, they’re one of the best in the world at their craft. That’s what Joel was.

“It’s exciting what he brings to the table — very fiery guy, very competitive.”

Ryan called Nunnally “an all-around great hire” for the Pirates.

Nunnally played in the majors from 1995-2000 and hit .246 for his career with an OPS of .823. He had a career year with the Cincinnati Reds in 1997, hitting .318 with 13 homers and a 1.002 OPS in 65 games.

“He’s been a hitting coach in the major leagues, has had an offensive program that’s had success in the major leagues,” Ryan said.

Ryan will be working with a new staff after last year’s pitching coach, Bryan Hickerson, and hitting coach, Keoni De Renne, have moved on. De Renne was hired by the Chicago Cubs to be their Triple-A hitting coach, while the Pirates promoted Hickerson to Triple-A Indianapolis.

“This will be the first time that I’ve never worked with either one of the people on the staff, so looking forward to seeing how that goes,” Ryan said. “It’s a little different. You get to know guys in spring training, and now you’ve got to learn how to work with them.”