Pirates promote Jeff Branson

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates have hired Jeff Branson as hitting coach and also added Jeff Livesey to the major league coaching staff.

Branson replaces Jay Bell, who left the organization last week to take a job with the Cincinnati Reds. Branson worked with Bell this past season to implement the team's hitting program. The Pirates won 94 games and made the playoffs for the first time in 21 years, but they struggled offensively. Pittsburgh hit just .245 on the season and finished in the bottom half of the NL in several offensive categories.

Branson played nine seasons in the majors with the, Cleveland Indians and Los Angeles Dodgers before retiring in 2001.

Livesey spent the past three years as Pittsburgh's minor league hitting coordinator.