Home fire is burning
Agent: Piniella's sole objective to get close to homePosted: Saturday October 26, 2002 3:54 PM
Updated: Saturday October 26, 2002 5:14 PM
SEATTLE (AP) -- Lou Piniella's reason for taking over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays should be accepted at face value, his agent said Saturday.
Piniella simply wants to be closer to his family, agent Alan Nero said.
"In the end, Lou got what he wanted," Nero said. "He got a great contract. He's going to be at home. He's going to be in the only major league city where the team plays and also holds spring training."
Piniella is expected to finalize the four-year, $13 million deal Monday. He left Seattle after the Mariners agreed to release him from the final year of a three-year contract that would have paid him $2.5 million next season.
Nero, though, criticized how the Mariners handled the situation. He said Seattle's front office touched off "two weeks of chaos" by insisting on compensation before allowing interested teams to interview Piniella.
The Mariners reached terms only with the Devil Rays. Because they couldn't cut a deal with the New York Mets, Nero said Seattle blocked Piniella from interviewing there.
"What Lou wanted was to quietly and quickly talk to the Mets and Tampa Bay, and if a deal could be worked out, fine," Nero said. "What Seattle did was to make it all about business. It became about compensation, and it took on a life of its own."
A Mariners spokesman refused comment on the allegation, citing commissioner Bud Selig's ban on discussing major issues during the World Series. The team has said all along it considered compensation a reasonable part of releasing Piniella.
The Mets subsequently reached a deal with Art Howe to manage their team.
The Mariners were unfair to Piniella, Nero said, because the manager gave them 10 years when he elevated a perennial also-ran to four playoff trips in seven years and a record-tying 116 victories in 2001.
"I'm personally disappointed with the way this was handled," Nero said. "I just don't think it was in keeping with what Lou gave the franchise."
Nero said Piniella "loves Seattle, loves his players and loves the fans" but felt he had to leave because of family issues that were complicated by the distance to Piniella's home in Tampa, Fla.
He declined to disclose the family matters.
Until reports surfaced of an agreement with the Devil Rays, there had been speculation that Piniella wouldn't work in Tampa because the team's woeful history wouldn't suit the manager's competitive personality.
The 59-year-old Piniella, though, sees it as a challenge.
"The reason for leaving Seattle was the family consideration, and certainly this job will take care of that," Piniella told the Tampa Tribune last week. "And honestly also, too, the challenge of doing basically what we did in Seattle 10 years ago."