If price is right, Piniella would return to M’s

  • KIRBY ARNOLD / Herald Writer
  • Thursday, October 19, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports

By KIRBY ARNOLD

Herald Writer

SEATTLE – Lou Piniella, whose contract expired at the end of the season, revealed Wednesday what it will take to re-sign him, and his goals seem to put the Seattle Mariners in a good position.

Piniella told KJR radio of Seattle that he wants to become one of baseball’s highest-paid managers, to win 1,500 games as a manager and to win a World Series with an American League team.

If the Mariners can give him those opportunities, he said he would return.

“If everything is equal, yes, no problem,” he said.

With only one other American League job open – at Toronto, where the Blue Jays fired Jim Fregosi – the Mariners would seem to be Piniella’s best bet at achieving his World Series goal. The M’s came within two victories of reaching the Series this season.

Piniella said he said his situation should be resolved within two weeks. Mariners officials are expected to meet with Piniella at his home in Tampa in the next several days.

“What’s important to me? I think managers should be compensated more,” Piniella said. “You look at what they pay NBA coaches, what they pay the NFL coaches. The managing profession is 162 games and it’s everyday it’s decisions. That’s important to me.”

Piniella made $1.3 million this season, which ranked fifth among baseball managers. New York Yankees manager Joe Torre is the highest-paid at about $3 million per year, and the San Francisco Giants’ Dusty Baker reportedly is nearing a contract that will pay him about $3 million.

By contrast, Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren, who also is the organization’s president, is the highest-paid NFL coach at $4 million per year. Former Seattle SuperSonics coach George Karl now makes between $4 million and $5 million per year with the NBA Milwaukee Bucks.

Piniella listed two other goals.

“I’d like to win 1,500 games as a manager,” he said. “It’s only been done once in the history of baseball, 1,500 wins as a manager and 1,500 hits as a player. And I want to be the only one to win a World Series title as an American League manager and a National League manager (he won the Series in 1990 with the Cincinnati Reds).”

Piniella, who had 1,705 hits in a 16-year playing career, has won 1,100 games as a manager with the Cincinnati Reds, the New York Yankees and Mariners.

Hall of Famer Fred Clarke won 1,602 games as a player-manager with Louisville and Pittsburgh between 1897 and 1915 and had 2,708 hits with those two teams.

Piniella said his next contract probably will be his last before he retires from baseball.

“I’m 57 years old and I’ve always said that 60-61 is about when it’s time to go fishing,” he said. “I would think that this would be the last one.”

There has been speculation that Piniella would like to manage closer to his home in Florida. He spends considerable time away from his wife, Anita.

Piniella, though, seemed to defuse that concern.

“If you’re five hours away from home or if you’re three hours away from home, I’m going to be in that city managing,” he said. “My wife is the one who must make the trips back and forth.

“You won’t find a better city than Seattle. You won’t find a prettier city with better fans.”

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