PITTSBURGH - The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired longtime major league infielder Jay Bell as the new hitting coach.
Bell replaces Gregg Ritchie, who left the team to become the coach at George Washington University.
The 46-year-old Bell spent 18 seasons in the majors, including eight years with the Pirates from 1989-96. Bell was a two-time All-Star and hit .265 with 195 home runs and 860 RBI in 2,063 career games. He retired after the 2003 season.
Bell spent the 2012 season as hitting coach for the Mobile BayBears, the Arizona Diamondbacks Double-A affiliate.
The Pirates hired Rick Sofield as first base coach and Dave Jauss as major league coach. Former first base coach Luis Silverio will serve as a senior adviser to minor league operations.
Alvarez staying put
The Pirates have picked up the option on third baseman Pedro Alvarez and parted ways with catcher Rod Barajas.
The 25-year-old Alvarez enjoyed a breakout season in 2012, batting .244 with a career-high 30 home runs and 85 RBIs in 149 games. His home run total was 10th best in the National League, though he also led NL third basemen in errors with 27 and finished second in the NL in strikeouts with 180.
Barajas, who signed with the Pirates as a free agent last winter, struggled at the plate and on defense. The 37-year-old hit just .206 with 11 homers and 31 RBI and threw out only six of 99 base stealers.
Pittsburgh also released reliever Hisanori Takahashi, who posted an 8.64 ERA in nine appearances.