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Rays will make formal offer to Piniella

Posted: Monday October 21, 2002 8:28 PM
  Heading home? Lou Piniella is a Tampa native and attended the University of Tampa. AP

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- The Tampa Bay Devil Rays will meet Tuesday with Lou Piniella and offer him a contract to become the team's next manager.

General manager Chuck LaMar spoke Monday with agent Alan Nero and arranged a meeting that will also include Piniella and Devil Rays managing general partner Vince Naimoli.

"At that time," the team said in a statement, "the Devil Rays will make a formal contract proposal to Mr. Piniella."

Piniella has a year remaining on his contract as manager of the Seattle Mariners, but has expressed a desire to work closer to his home in Tampa.

Last week, the Devil Rays received permission to talk to Piniella after they agreed to provide compensation to Seattle in the event they sign the manager.

The Devil Rays, who had the lowest payroll in baseball at around $34 million last season, are believed to be prepared to offer a deal with an average salary in excess of the $2.5 million Piniella was to earn in Seattle next year.

Nero, who has said Piniella also would like to talk to the New York Mets about their managerial opening, did not return telephone messages from The Associated Press.

The Mets have also targeted Piniella as a possible replacement for Bobby Valentine, but have been unable to agree with the Mariners on compensation yet.

"There's nothing new to report. I can't comment on specifics of an ongoing situation," Mets spokesman Jay Horwitz said.

The Devil Rays said Saturday's initial meeting with Piniella and Nero was "positive and constructive." Lamar spoke with the agent again Sunday, while Piniella was in Arizona attending the funeral of a friend.

Tampa Bay fired Hal McRae with one year remaining on his contract after losing a franchise-record 106 games this season. Besides Piniella, the team has talked to six other candidates -- none with big league managerial experience -- about filling the job.

The others interviewed were Oakland Athletics bench coach Ken Macha; New York Yankees coaches Willie Randolph and Lee Mazzilli; Tampa Bay coaches Billy Hatcher and Tom Foley, and Devil Rays minor league manager Bill Evers.

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