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Brian Esposito Returns for Take-Two of Third Season as Indians Manager

Three of four coaches carry over from Indianapolis’ planned 2020 field staff
February 17, 2021

The Pittsburgh Pirates today announced that Brian Esposito will return as manager of the Indianapolis Indians in 2021 after spending the 2020 season at Pittsburgh’s Alternate Training Site in Altoona, Pa.

The Pittsburgh Pirates today announced that Brian Esposito will return as manager of the Indianapolis Indians in 2021 after spending the 2020 season at Pittsburgh’s Alternate Training Site in Altoona, Pa.

This upcoming season marks Esposito’s third as Indians skipper and ninth year coaching within the Pirates organization. He will be joined by most of what would have been the Indians’ 2020 staff, including hitting coach Jon Nunnally, pitching coach Joel Hanrahan, strength and conditioning coach Alan Burr and athletic trainer Justin Ahrens. Newcomer Gustavo Omana joins the staff as assistant coach.

Esposito, 41, led the Indians to a 66-74 (.471) record in 2019. He holds a 372-336 (.525) career record in six years as a manager with a 139-141 (.496) Triple-A record. His coaching career began in Indy, where he served as a player-coach during the 2013 season. His first managing gig came with Short-Season A Jamestown in 2014 before he led Single-A West Virginia to a club record 87 wins in his first of two seasons with the team. In 2017 he served as manager of Short-Season A West Virginia before returning to Indianapolis in 2018.

He was originally selected by Boston in the fifth round of the 2000 First-Year Player Draft and played 13 seasons in the minors with seven different organizations. Primarily a catcher, Esposito made his major league debut with St. Louis on June 2, 2007 as a defensive replacement and appeared in two other major league games with Houston in 2010.

Nunnally, 49, officially rejoins the Indians after spending the 2019 campaign as hitting coach for Double-A Altoona and 2020 at the Pirates Alternate Training Site. This is his third season within the Pirates organization and his 14th overall as a coach in professional baseball, two of which were spent in the International League with Columbus and Buffalo. He spent the first five years of his coaching career in the Cleveland Indians organization, the last two with the major league club as hitting coach. Nunnally then joined the Toronto system as a hitting coach for three years before bouncing to Boston’s minor league system for two. Prior to joining the Pirates organization, he served as the minor league outfield and baserunning coordinator for Los Angeles (AL) for two years.

Three years after being drafted by Cleveland, Nunnally hit a home run in his first major league at-bat with Kansas City on April 29, 1995. In 1998 while in the Reds organization, Nunnally appeared in 79 Triple-A games with Indianapolis and hit .252 (73-for-290) with 11 home runs and 53 RBI. He returned to the Circle City in 2004-05 before retiring from his playing career in 2006. Nunnally played two years of baseball at Miami Dade South Community College before graduating from Hargrave Military Academy (Chatham, Va.) in 1990.

Hanrahan, 39, has moved up through the Pirates minor league system after serving as pitching coach with Rookie-Advanced Bristol (2017), Single-A West Virginia (2018) and Altoona (2019). He was named the Indians pitching coach for the 2020 season and spent it at Pittsburgh’s Alternate Training Site. His 2019 pitching staff in Altoona led the Eastern League with six complete games, 18 shutouts and 116 double plays induced.

Before becoming a two-time National League All-Star, Hanrahan was selected by Los Angeles (NL) in the second round of the 2000 First-Year Player Draft. The right-handed hurler made his major league debut as a starter with Washington on July 28, 2007 and earned his first win on Aug. 4 against St. Louis. After transferring to the bullpen in 2008, Hanrahan was sent to Pittsburgh with outfielder Lastings Milledge in exchange for outfielder Nyjer Morgan and lefty Sean Burnett. During his four years with the Pirates, he was named an All-Star twice, first in 2011 after he set a club record with 26 saves before the break. That year, he went 40-for-44 in save opportunities and was named the Pirates MVP. He was traded to Boston following the 2012 season in a deal that also sent infielder Brock Holt to the Red Sox in exchange for infielder Ivan De Jesus Jr., right-handers Mark Melancon and Stolmy Pimentel, and outfielder Jerry Sands. His big-league career ended in 2013 after having Tommy John surgery. He graduated from Norwalk (Iowa) Community High School in 2000 and had his uniform No. 3 retired in 2010.

Omana, 35, is entering his third year of coaching with Pittsburgh’s organization after being assigned to coach the GCL Pirates in 2020. Prior to his Pirates tenure, he served as the hitting coach of the Tampa Bay Rays Baseball Academy in Venezuela from 2010-15 and was an assistant coach for Everglades (Miramar, Fla.) High School in 2017. Omana was signed by Cincinnati as a non-drafted free agent in 2004 and spent three seasons in the Venezuelan Summer League before his playing career came to a close.

Burr, 37, returns to Indy for his fourth year with the Indians and ninth in the Pirates organization after being at Pittsburgh’s Alternate Training Site in 2020. He began his professional baseball career with stints in Single-A West Virginia (2013), High-A Bradenton (2015) and Altoona (2014, ‘16). He spent six years in college athletics at Florida International University and Central Connecticut University after receiving his master’s degree in Exercise Science in 2008 from Appalachian State University. He is a certified and registered strength and conditioning coach by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is a member of the Professional Baseball Strength and Conditioning Coach Society.

Ahrens, 32, is entering his 10th season with the Pittsburgh organization and comes to Indianapolis from an alternate training site assignment that followed a three-year stint with Altoona. He was named the Florida State League’s Athletic Trainer of the Year in 2016, his second year with Bradenton. He began his career with the Pirates in 2013 as Single-A West Virginia’s athletic trainer after being in the New York-Penn League in 2012 and the Dominican Republic in 2011. Ahrens graduated with his bachelor’s degree in Athletic Training from Carroll (Waukesha, Wis.) University in 2011 and his master’s in Kinesiology from Fresno Pacific (Calif.) University in 2016.