Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010
By Patrick MooneyCSNChicago.comLAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. Lou Piniella has lost weight by going on 25-mile bicycle trips with his buddies. He looks tanned, relaxed and at peace with his decisions.
Last we saw Piniella, tears were streaming down his face. He swore hed never again put on a uniform, one that will be framed and hung up in his office at his new home in Tampa, Fla.
Almost four months after Piniella walked out of the dreary interview room cramped inside Wrigley Field, he insists that hes not going to manage again. You may not believe that because we are conditioned to think that sports figures are addicted to the action and will eventually change their minds.
But Piniella an emotional man known for his honesty didnt leave much open to interpretation on Tuesday at the winter meetings.
Im retired as a manager, Piniella said. I really am. Ive said that when I went to Chicago that it would be my last job and it will be. Thats it. I did it long enough and its time to do other things.
Commissioner Bud Selig invited Piniella, Joe Torre, Cito Gaston and Bobby Cox who left because of a family medical situation to the Swan and Dolphin resort for a news conference to honor an elite class of outgoing managers. Together they won more than 7,500 games and eight World Series titles.
While theres been much speculation about Piniella eventually taking a consultant role with the New York Yankees, there is nothing imminent.
Well see what the future brings, Piniella said. Theres no need to make any decision. I havent really given it any thought. Right now Im just enjoying what Im doing, which is nothing.
The 67-year-old is trying to decompress after a difficult year both personally and professionally. He said he traveled to Mesa, Ariz., for spring training knowing that it would be his final season.
This summer, Piniella was impacted deeply by the deaths of his uncle and Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, a man he considered a father figure.
Piniella left the Cubs on Aug. 22 to take care of his ailing mother, and he felt another loss when Ron Santo died last week. Selig, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts and WGN Radios Pat Hughes will give eulogies on Friday at Santos funeral. After the service, a procession will lead to Wrigley Field.
We've lost a true friend, and Chicago has lost an icon, Piniella said. I was a manager getting beat this past summer and I had to get him up when we would talk. My life was enriched from knowing Ron Santo for the past four years.
For Piniella, this was a chance to again enjoy the national spotlight, and be remembered for more than his final weeks managing a Cubs team that at the time looked headed toward 100 losses.
Everybody in this room loves talking to Lou. I know I do, Gaston said. Heres a man (who) gave his heart and soul to this game.
Piniella has spent almost his entire adult life packing up for spring training and leaving home just after the Super Bowl. It may feel weird when he doesnt have to. But hes not second-guessing himself.
Im going to have to go somewhere Feb. 14, Piniella said. Im not exactly sure (where) but Im going to have to pack up a suitcase and go somewhere. Yeah, Ill miss it. You always miss it (the competition), the people in the game. But, look, its time. There comes a time in everybodys life when you need to do other things and thats where Im at.
Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.