CINCINNATI — It was a two-sentence announcement:
“We have hired Lou Piniella to serve in a consulting capacity as a senior adviser to baseball operations. He is expected to spend some time with the team in spring training.”
The speculation on Twitter was immediate. Bryan Price better watch his back.
I don’t think so.
Price’s job security is tenuous. He’s in the final year of his contract. The club lost 98 games last year and its prospects for improving greatly don’t look good.
But Piniella rebuffed the Seattle Mariners’ attempt to get him to return to managing in 2013. He’s 72 years old.
Reds President of Baseball Operations Walt Jocketty didn't give any indications of a plan for Piniella to take over the helm.
“He’ll spend three weeks at spring training,” Jocketty said. “Then come through during the season. He’s a great guy to have around. He has such a positive attitude. He’ll help the players and the staff.”
I talked to Piniella about returning to the Reds at Redsfest. He made it sound like he was looking for a minor role.
“Bob (Castellini) wanted to speak to me,” Piniella said then. “We’re going to have a late lunch and talk about some things. Bryan Price, the manager here, was my pitching coach in Seattle. I brought him up to the big leagues.
“He’s a very intelligent young man, a good baseball guy. If I can help him in any way, I’d be very pleased to do so.”
That doesn’t sound like someone after Price’s job.
Stranger things have happened, though.
Piniella is Castellini’s kind of guy and a fan favorite. If the Reds were close to contending, maybe.
But the timing doesn’t seem right.
John Fay is freelance sports columnist. This column represents his opinion.