Just when you think Mariners-world can’t get more bizarre, ownership asked Lou Piniella to manage the club again.
Eleven years after Piniella asked out of the Mariners partly because he could no longer deal with CEO Howard Lincoln and president Chuck Armstrong, they put on a “full-court press” to woo him back, an unidentified source told Fox Sports.
“I talked to them about the job, but that’s it,” Piniella told Fox Sports Thursday night. “There was nothing else to it. It was just conversation, nothing more.”
Piniella, 70, said he’s not interested in managing again.
“I’m happy doing what I’m doing,” he said, “which is watching a little baseball, doing a little bit of television for the Yankees, 15 games or so a year. It keeps me involved a bit.
“I don’t really want to manage anymore.”
Piniella managed the Mariners from 1993 to 2002, during which the Mariners reached the postseason four times — the only playoff appearances in the club’s otherwise dreary 37 years. Piniella, whose Seattle record was 840-711, remains the only Mariners manager to last more than four seasons.
The vacancy happened when Eric Wedge, not unlike the manner of Piniella, wanted out, declining a one-year extension the Mariners offered. Wedge said he wouldn’t have accepted a five-year extension the way ownership wanted to run the club.
In trading him in October 2002, to the Rays for outfielder Randy Winn, Piniella had his request fulfilled to go back to his Tampa home, where he had an ailing father as well as a daughter that needed his attention. He managed the Rays for three years and the Chicago Cubs for four years through 2010 and has not had a field position since.
Piniella has been on friendly terms with Lincoln and Armstrong since his departure, but the thought of him rejoining the same front office that he wore out — and wore him out — is, to borrow a pet phrase from the great Dave Niehaus: “Unbelievable!”
Leave it to the Mariners, at a time of crashing irrelevance that cries out for forward thinking, to look backward.