Just got done hearing former Mariners GM Woody Woodward speak about what it was like to first recruit Lou Piniella for the job of managing the Mariners. Piniella, for those who haven’t heard, announced today that he will retire at the end of the season.
Is this the end for Piniella?
My hunch is no. I’ve known too many managers who get a little burned out by the job, take a year or two off, then get back into it. I watched Cito Gaston get back into managing in 2008 after having not done so since 1997. I covered Jim Fregosi when he last managed back in 2000 and his name still crops up when there are managerial openings. Mike Hargrove walked out midway through the 2007 season because he was somewhat burned out by the job. A year later, he wanted back in the game.
So, no. This probably is not the end for Piniella. But anyway, let’s hear what Woodward had to say.
“Baseball won’t seem the same without a few clips of Lou,” Woodward said. “The one thing you can say about Lou Piniella is that he gave his all. He protected his players. He argued for them on the field. Sometimes, maybe a little excessive. But he was out ther protecting them and by golly, I think that translates into a pretty good ballclub too. I think they knew where he was coming from. He was just a good friend, is still a good friend and a wonderful guy to work with.”
Woodward said he’s taking Piniella at his word about wanting to retire for good and that, in a conversation earlier this year “he had indicated this could very well be the last one.”
So, how tough was it to “sell” Piniella on baseball in Seattle?
“I said ‘Lou, all we’ve got to do is put a winner together’,” Woodward said. “You get a good ownership group and the Northwest is going to respond.’
“And his comeback at that time was, he said ‘Are you sure?’ He said all the experts back east kept telling hin no, baseball will never make it in the Northwest. And how wrong were they and are they? Because in this place, you put a winner on the field, they’ll come out big-time and they proved it.
“And thank goodness. Lou, that’s maybe the one time he listened to me.”
Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu was asked about Piniella today and said: “I’ve said it before, there’s only one Lou. You talk about genuine. He’s about as genuine as they come.”
Wakamatsu was asked whether, given his low-key demeanor, he finds it tough to follow Piniella’s fiery act with umpires when it comes to managing in Seattle.
“Winning is what the fans want,” Wakamatsu said. “And so, whatever that style is, if it’s fiery and it works, that’s what they expect. If it’s calm and they win, then it’s OK.”
Wakamatsu added: “There are a lot of other managers in the game. Jimmy Leyland, Tony LaRussa. Those guys had their own style and they were extremely successful. Bobby Cox. They were their own men and they were successful and they won. That’s a key for me.”
On the injury front, Russell Branyan will probably miss a couple of games with those lowerback spasms. Same with Rob Johnson, who had that hip pain move on up to his back as well.
Michael Saunders is getting better movement with that bruised finger, but will still sit out at least one more game.
Shawn Kelley throws a bullpen session tomorrow.
Erik Bedard is to discuss his MRI results tonight with Dr. Edward Khalfayan. The team could announce what those results are at some point after tonight’s game.