<
>

Piniella: Cubs in good hands with Ricketts

Lou Piniella waves to the Wrigley Field crowd Sunday before his last game as Cubs manager. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Former Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella was honored along with retiring managers Joe Torre, Cito Gaston and Bobby Cox in a reception to honor the iconic managers held by Commissioner Bud Selig on Tuesday.

I asked Piniella what the Cubs ownership group must do to field a championship team.

"First of all they are good people," Piniella said of the Cubs owners, the Ricketts family. "They want what's best for the Chicago Cubs. They are learning baseball. It's not an easy game. They've got good people in the front office. They have a good staff on the field. The farm system, I think we had some good young players coming. You give them some time, and the fact that they want to win. They will bring a winner to Chicago in a short period on time."

Piniella also had some nice things to say about his replacement, Mike Quade, who took over the Cubs on Aug. 23 after Piniella retired and led the team to a 24-13 record.

"They're going younger," Piniella said. "Dealing with the younger players are some of his strengths. He knows that situation because he has been there the past four years, plus he managed in the Cubs system. He served his apprenticeship, and he deserves an opportunity, and Jim Hendry gave it to him. He made the best of it, and he will do a good job for the Chicago Cubs."

Since retiring, Piniella has enjoyed spending time with his family and taking up a new hobby -- bike riding. Piniella said he takes 25-mile bike trips with his friends.

Piniella didn't rule out working for another team, but he reiterated that his managing days are over.

"Now that I've done this [managing] for a long time, I've had my time," Piniella said. "Now the time is to give these young kids that come along [an opportunity]."

Piniella was asked if he will work in baseball again.

"I will [come back]. But I really haven't done all that much or thought about it that much," Piniella said. "I had the honey-do list, and I've exercised a lot."

Piniella will most likely end up with the New York Yankees or Tampa Bay Rays in a consulting position, although he didn't say that. Those would be the natural spots for the Tampa, Fla., native.