06/04/07 8:24 PM ET
Piniella suspended four games
Penalty will be the longest of Cubs skipper's career
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
Piniella did serve one game on Sunday and will not be in the dugout for the Cubs' three-game series against the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers, which began Monday night.
"I got four days, I'm not complaining about it, I'll serve it, and I'll learn from this experience," Piniella said Monday.
On Sunday, Major League Baseball had issued an indefinite suspension, citing Piniella for "aggressive and inappropriate actions" when he allegedly kicked third-base umpire Mark Wegner. The original suspension was five games, but on Monday, Piniella talked to John McHale, MLB executive vice president for administration, and MLB disciplinarian Bob Watson, among others, to present his side of the incident. Cubs general manager Jim Hendry also took part in the call.
"I was hoping it would be a little less," Hendry said. "I did assume it would probably be at least three. I didn't think it would be a lot more than that.
"I certainly don't feel there was any kind of bad contact made and very minor incidental contact with his hat that you do in your normal arguing. I don't think anybody from Lou on down feel he was in the violent kicking mood."
It was the first time Piniella had been ejected this year, and 60th time in his career. This will be his longest suspension; his previous "high" was a two-game suspension. He also was fined $4,000 for his actions.
"My days [suspended] are for some contact and for inciting the crowd," Piniella said. "That's hard not to do in Chicago. I'm not complaining about anything. I'm glad they gave me a way to express myself [on Monday]. These things won't happen again."
The incident occurred in the Chicago eighth. Angel Pagan had doubled and tried to get to third on a passed ball by Atlanta's Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The catcher recovered in time to throw Pagan out at third, although Pagan and third-base coach Mike Quade disagreed. So did Piniella, who ran onto the field to argue.
The Cubs manager went nose-to-nose with Wegner, kicking dirt on his shoes and booting his own cap twice. After the game, Piniella admitted Wegner got the call right. Crew chief Bruce Froemming said Piniella kicked Wegner.
"The whole world saw what he did," Froemming said after the game. "It was a terrible display of disrespect and [the MLB office in] New York will be called immediately, and we'll take it from there."
According to the statement issued Sunday by Major League Baseball, Piniella was suspended and fined an undisclosed amount for his "aggressive and inappropriate actions, including making contact with Wegner on multiple occasions" in the eighth inning. Watson, vice president of on-field operations for MLB, made the announcement.
Bench coach Alan Trammell will manage the Cubs, while Piniella will watch from the press box level with Hendry.
"I want Lou Piniella to back the players," Hendry said. "You don't have the luxury when you're sitting at the level where he sits in the dugout of looking at replays before you go out and argue. I think by Angel's reaction and Mike trying to sell the call a little bit, I think Lou went out there and argued vehemently how I would want him to."
But what about Froemming's comments?
"Lou Piniella has been a credit to the game as a player and manager his entire career," Hendry said. "I think you're not doing your job if you don't support your players. I think everybody connected with the Cubs felt he was doing the right thing by defending his guys."
"It's unfortunate he got the suspension he did," Cubs catcher Michael Barrett said, "but as a player, you appreciate when a manager sticks up for his team.
"Hopefully, we can show our appreciation by going out and playing good, hard, clean baseball."
Piniella can still make out the lineup card, and was on the field for batting practice. He cannot be in uniform when the game starts and cannot communicate with the personnel in the dugout.
"You knew he was going to get suspended," Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee said. "[Four games] seems like a little too much to me."
The Cubs did not win Saturday, but roughed up the Atlanta Braves, 10-1, on Sunday to snap a six-game losing streak. Piniella admitted the recent stretch of games had gotten to him.
"There were frustrations involved," he said. "I've got to go out there and argue and defend my team. At the same time, there was no need for all the extracurricular stuff, too. I apologize to the umpires because I respect these guys. It's over with."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.