ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Lou Piniella had a simple mindset heading into his final game as Tampa Bay manager on Sunday.
"Finish this ballgame and go on home," Piniella said. "Go
have dinner with some friends. Then I'm going home and relax."
Piniella had one season remaining on a $13 million, four-year contract he signed in October 2002 but, according to the terms of a
buyout announced Friday, will be free to pursue other jobs after
the Devil Rays conclude the season.
"They don't realize how tired you get during a baseball season
... mentally tired," said Piniella, who has managed 19 seasons
with four teams. "You need time to unwind."
There is a real possibility Piniella might take a year off before rejoining the managerial ranks. After fishing, playing golf and spending time with his family for the next 10 days or so, Piniella is scheduled to join Fox for the AL Championship Series.
"Got to make sure that my suits fit," Piniella joked about his preparation for a return to the TV booth. "I'm looking forward to it."
Piniella said the last time he worked in the broadcast booth was in 1989, one season after managing the New York Yankees. In 1990 he
was hired as manager of the Cincinnati Reds and led them to a World
Piniella's departure had long been expected after he questioned ownership's commitment to winning. The buyout calls for Piniella to
receive $2.2 million of the $4.4 million he was due next season, as
well as $1.25 million in deferred salary from 2003.
If Piniella, 62, accepts a job with another team, the Devil Rays could recoup some or all of the money owed for next season.