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Pirates promote Branson to hitting coach

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

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Branson replaces Jay Bell, who left the organization last week to take a job with the Cincinnati Reds. Branson worked with Bell last season to implement the team's hitting program. The Pirates won 94 games to make the playoffs for the first time in 21 years but 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 between Cincinnati, Cleveland and the Los Angeles Dodgers before retiring in 2001.

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

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