Mariners say they didn’t ‘full-court press’ Piniella
While Mariners president Chuck Armstrong did talk to former manager Lou Piniella last week about the club’s managerial opening, a team official said Friday there was no “full-court press” to bring back the former skipper as has been reported.
Mariners baseball information director Tim Hevly said front-office members have been making calls to people around the game to gather their opinions and that Piniella himself brought up the question of whether he’d be interested during a chat with Armstrong, then called back several days later to say he didn’t want to manage again.
Hevly said Armstrong was talking to Piniella about a number of topics, including letting him know he was going to be inducted into the Mariners Hall of Fame next year.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports was the first to report Thursday night that the 70-year-old Piniella had been contacted by the Mariners.
“I talked to them about the job, but that’s it,” Piniella told Rosenthal. “There was nothing else to it. It was just conversation, nothing more.”
But Rosenthal also quoted a “source with knowledge of the discussions” as saying the club put on “a full-court press” in pursuit of Piniella and Hevly said that simply wasn’t accurate, noting that Armstrong talked to Piniella before heading to Italy on vacation, but general manager Jack Zduriencik is the one doing the hiring.
“Chuck isn’t even in the country right now. Jack is leading the manager’s search,” Hevly said. “And he is still in the process of putting together a list of candidates. People here are talking to lots of people in the game about jobs and managers. As part of a larger conversation with Lou last week, the manager job came up.
“Lou expressed some interest in it, we were surprised, but listened,” Hevly said. “He then called back and said he didn’t want to pursue it. There was no full-court press or serious discussions.”
Piniella is the only manager in Mariners history with a winning record, posting an 840-711 record from 1993-2002 and leading the club to its only four post-season appearances. He then managed Tampa Bay for three seasons and the Cubs for three and a half years before stepping down in August of 2010 to care for his ailing mother.
Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln said last week that Zduriencik would be the one conducting the hiring process and he didn’t expect any decision until November, after the conclusion of the World Series, in order to allow the team to pursue candidates who might be working for clubs currently in the playoffs.
One of the prospective candidates, A’s bench coach Chip Hale, just saw his team eliminated Thursday night. Tim Wallach, another possible candidate, is working as third base coach for the Dodgers as they begin play in the National League Championship Series. The Mariners aren’t believed to have conducted any formal interviews yet.