Piniella says he will retire at season's end
'Sweet Lou' led Cubs to two division flags, Reds to Series title
CHICAGO -- Sweet Lou is ready to go sail into retirement.
After managing 23 seasons, winning one World Series and three Manager of the Year Awards, Lou Piniella has decided to retire after finishing the season with the Cubs.
"This has nothing to do with the way this season has gone," Piniella said of his decision. "We've struggled some but what it has to do more than anything else is my age factor and I want to go home.
"I've been away from home since 1962," he said. "That's about 50 years. It's a long road and God has blessed me with good health and the ability to do this job and I'm appreciative. Sooner or later, you go on to a new phase and that's what's happened to me."
Hours after Piniella's announcement, Aramis Ramirez homered three times and drove in seven as the Cubs rallied from a six-run deficit to beat Houston, 14-7, at Wrigley Field.
Piniella, who turns 67 on Aug. 28, issued a statement Tuesday afternoon. He had planned on making a simple announcement during his regular pregame media session but his agent, Alan Nero, leaked the information.
"Unfortunately, my agent talked to a writer in New York and it caused me some headaches," Piniella said. "I wanted to be able to talk to the team first, I wanted to talk to my coaches first. As it was, we had to release the statement at 2 o'clock. We were going to release it around 4."
He is the first Cubs manager in more than 70 years to post a winning record in each of his first three seasons with the club. But he was unable to lead the team to the World Series, something no manager has done since Frank Chance in 1908.
But it's time. And anyone who thinks Piniella will doze off in the clubhouse during the final two months doesn't know him very well.
World Series won
as player and manager
|Name||Won as player||Won as manager|
|John McGraw||1905*||1905*, '21, '22|
|Frank Chance||1907*, '08*||1907*, '08*|
|Tris Speaker||1912, '15, '20*||1920*|
|Frankie Frisch||1921, '22, '31, '34*||1934*|
|Casey Stengel||1922||1949, '50, '51, '52, '53, '56, '58|
|Leo Durocher||1928, '34||1954|
|Mickey Cochrane||1929, '30, '35||1935*|
|Red Schoendienst||1946, '57||1967|
|Hank Bauer||1949, '50, '52, '53, '56, '58||1968|
|Billy Martin||1951, '52, '53, '56||1977|
|Gil Hodges||1955, '59||1969|
|Davey Johnson||1966, '70||1986|
|Lou Piniella||1977, '78||1990|
|Mike Scioscia||1981, '88||2002|
|Joe Girardi||1996, '98, '99||2009|
"Would I like to win the rest of the way? You're darn right, I would," Piniella said. "At the same time, my family needs me at home."
At the end of the year, he will head to Tampa, Fla., with wife Anita, to spend time with his children and grandchildren and the new boat, "Extra Innings," he bought last year.
"My emotions? I've been doing this my whole life and to leave something you really love is not easy," he said. "There comes a time and place for everybody."
During the Cubs' trip to Los Angeles prior to the All-Star break, Piniella said he would not manage another team but at that time did not rule out the possibility of extending his contract in Chicago. He has talked with Cubs general manager Jim Hendry about the future and apparently decided now was the time to make an announcement. Why now?
"First of all, I get asked all the time," Piniella said. "I don't want to mislead anybody about my intentions and at the same time, and more important, it gives Jim Hendry ample opportunity to find a new manager for this organization and he can do it where he doesn't have to be secretive about it."
Piniella met with the players in the clubhouse prior to a news conference at Wrigley Field.
"It's his idea and everybody supports him," outfielder Alfonso Soriano said.
Piniella isn't done.
"I talked to the team and told them that just because I'm retiring at the end of the season doesn't mean I'm not interested in continuing to win baseball games," he said. "I will come here every day prepared to win a baseball game and do the best I can to ensure we do those things."
He would consider a consulting job with a team.
"I enjoy this game, I really do," he said. "[Being a consultant] would be a good way to stay involved and not on an everyday basis."
He may work for the Cubs. Maybe the Yankees.
"I've got no plans, no plans whatsoever," he said.
The Cubs won the National League Central in 2007 and '08 under Piniella, and posted the best record in the NL in '08 at 97-64. But they went a combined 0-6 in the postseason both seasons. Last year, the Cubs were 83-78 and finished second.
This season, the Cubs are 43-52 after Tuesday's huge win and 10 1/2 games back in the Central, and it's been a struggle. Piniella has had to deal with off-field issues as well, such as Carlos Zambrano's tantrum on June 25 in which he blasted his teammates for not playing well behind him.
He is one of five men to win at least three Manager of the Year Awards, including 2008 with the Cubs. He will retire the 14th winningest manager in Major League history. Piniella entered Tuesday's game with 1,826 wins in his 23 seasons as a manager. He has also been ejected 60 times.
He first managed in 1986, in the first of two stints with the Yankees, and won the World Series with the 1990 Reds. He managed the Mariners for 10 seasons, winning his other two Manager of the Year Awards and three AL West titles before spending three years with Tampa Bay.
The Cubs may be chasing the Reds and Cardinals in the Central this season but there's still time. That's Piniella's attitude.
"I managed a team in Seattle that was 13 1/2 out Aug. 1 and went to the American League championship finals," he said. "It could happen here. We just need to get hot. [Retiring] has to do with what I said, nothing more, nothing less."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.