Cubs manager Lou Piniella got the opportunity to explain his sudden retirement before Sunday’s game against the Braves. It’s more about his sick mother than his frustration with the Cubs’ play, and many folks are sharing great ‘Sweet Lou’ stories this afternoon.
Here is a bit of Piniella’s statement, via Dave van Dyck of the Chicago Tribune:
“When I previously announced my intentions to retire at the end of the
season, a primary reason for my decision was that it would allow me to
spend more valuable time with my family. That time has unfortunately
gotten here sooner than I could have ever expected.
I couldn’t be more appreciative of the Cubs
organization for providing me the opportunity to be their manager. I
wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world and I consider
this the ultimate way to end my managerial career.”
And some reactions to Lou’s departure:
* Greg Johns of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer has a Mariners perspective: “Piniella is remembered by M’s fans for more than just the wins,” writes Johns.
“His emotional outbursts on the field were legendary, but even more
important was his presence and leadership for a franchise desperately in
need of both.”
* Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com believes that the timing is right for a new manager in Chicago. But he will remember Piniella with fond memories. “Sweet Lou provided so many fun moments for fans across all the country,” writes Rosenthal, ”
entertaining us with his classic ejections and rants, not to mention
* Adam McCalvy of MLB.com passes along some kind words from Brewers manager Ken Macha. The two were rivals in the AL West for a while. “Lou and I talked quite a bit over the years that I managed,” Macha
said. “I said this when he announced his retirement, that I admire the
guys who have done this job for that long, [like] Bobby Cox and [Joe]
Torre. This is not an easy job.”
* Cubs starter Ryan Dempster told the Chicago Tribune that he is said to see Piniella go, but also that he understands the reasoning behind the sudden departure: “Dealing with family issues and
dealing with your mom are something none us ever want to go through,” Dempster
said. “I’m happy for him he gets to go be with her.
Obviously, the season didn’t
go like we wanted it to but the most important thing is family and he gets to
be with his mom and be around her.”
There’s certainly never a bad time to hit a home run, but when you get the opportunity to crush a triple-deck, 493-foot shot off of Tyler Duffey, you should take it. With the Mariners down 2-0 to the Twins in the fourth inning, Cruz hammered a fastball to deep left field for his 39th long ball of the season — and the second-longest home run hit in 2016, to boot.
It doesn’t hurt that the Mariners are 1.5 games back of a playoff spot, although they’ll have to oust the Blue Jays, Orioles, or Tigers to get a wild card. They’ve gone 3-3 in the last week, dropping two consecutive series to the Astros and Blue Jays and taking their series opener against Minnesota 10-1 on Friday night.
Cruz, for his part, entered Saturday’s game with a .299/.337/.610 batting line and six home runs in September. According to ESPN.com’s Home Run Tracker, Cruz sits behind Edwin Encarnacion and Mike Napoli with 13 “no-doubt” home runs in 2016, third-most among major league sluggers. It’s safe to say he can add Saturday’s moonshot to that list.
Marlins’ outfielder and undisputed home run king Giancarlo Stanton remains untouched at the top of the Statcast leaderboard with a 504-ft. home run, and it’s difficult to envision any slugger reaching beyond that before the end of the season. Even so, Cruz won’t need to clear 500 feet to extend an impressive hitting record. One more home run will put the 36-year-old at 40 on the year, making 2016 his third consecutive season with at least 40 homers, and his second such season doing so in Seattle.
It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.
On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.
At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.
If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.
Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.
Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.