Piniella, who turns 67 next month, released a statement Tuesday announcing his intention to retire following this season -- his 23rd as a big league manager. The Cubs are languishing in fourth place in the National League Central at 42-52 as they play out the string in a season marked by turmoil.
"I couldn't be more appreciative of the Cubs organization for providing me the opportunity to manage this ballclub," Piniella said in a statement released by the team. "I've had four wonderful years here that I wouldn't trade for anything in the world. I've grown to love the city and the fans but at my age it will be time to enter a new phase in my life. It will enable me to spend more valuable time with my family -- my wife, my kids and my grandchildren. God has blessed me to have been able to work this many years in the game that I love."
Piniella is in the final year of his contract with Chicago, and there had been plenty of speculation that this would be his final season at the helm.
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Entering play Tuesday, Piniella has a career record of 1,826-1,691 as a manager, with the high point coming 20 years ago when he led the underdog Reds to a World Series sweep over Oakland for his only championship. Piniella also managed the Yankees, Mariners and then-Devil Rays before heading to Chicago in 2007.
The Cubs won the division in his first two years at the helm but slipped to second and missed the playoffs last year before completely bottoming out this season. Beyond having to deal with injuries and poor seasons in general from some of his highest-paid players, Piniella also has had to manage an ongoing soap opera involving former ace Carlos Zambrano. The fiery pitcher was yanked from the rotation earlier this season, then reinstated before being booted off the active roster following a dugout confrontation with first baseman Derrek Lee.
Piniella addressed the timing of his decision, which was first reported Tuesday afternoon by the New York Daily News, in the press release.
Why make this announcement now? [Cubs general manager] Jim Hendry asked me in recent weeks regarding my future with the team and I told him I had made the decision to retire at the end of the season. Since my decision has now been made, I don't want to mislead anyone about my intentions when asked in the future.Piniella spent 18 seasons as a player in the majors -- most of them with the Yankees -- before retiring following the 1984 campaign. Two years later he took over the Yankees as manager and led them to a 90-win season.
But more importantly, announcing my decision now is what's best for this organization in the long run. It gives Jim Hendry ample time to find the next manager and he doesn't need to do so in secrecy. The Cubs are one of the greatest organizations in baseball. I care very deeply for this organization and want nothing more than for it to experience present and long-term success. I'm proud of our accomplishments during my time here and this will be a perfect way for me to end my career.
But let me make one thing perfectly clear: our work is far from over. I want to keep the momentum going more than anything else and win as many games as we can to get back in this pennant race. I'm going to give every effort I have to help this team win and that will remain my sole focus through the rest of the season.