GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Just over 28 years ago, the Cincinnati Reds were seeking the new field manager who would succeed permanently suspended Pete Rose. Reds owner Marge Schott sought the counsel of New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner who recommended one of his many former field bosses in Lou Piniella.
The former All-star outfielder was hired on a three year deal and the Reds immediately responded with the 1990 World Series championship. Nearing the end of his contract in 1992, Piniella was prepared to negotiate an extension to remain in Cincinnati. Schott saw no need for an immediate resolution and the manager didn’t appreciate being in proverbial “limbo” so he announced that he would not return to the Reds.
Piniella went on to also manage the Mariners, Cubs, and Devil Rays but never again captured the coveted top prize. He became good friends with future Reds owner Bob Castellini and ultimately turned down opportunities to again manage the Reds. Piniella decided he was done as a manager.
“Sweet Lou” has held off-field roles during the Castellini regime including being here for much of spring training to observe both workouts and games. Now 74, he suffered a small stroke last summer but has responded well and looks good. I recently visited with him at Goodyear Ballpark. After some “small talk” I wanted to get a quote I could use.
I mentioned that spring training has been shortened by two days. He took my prompt exactly where I hoped.
“In 1990 our spring training was shortened two weeks by a strike and it didn’t bother us a bit,” the Tampa native began. “They could cut off ten days and do just fine.”
It should be noted that the Arizona and Florida communities that have built spring training facilities would not stand for the fewer exhibition games that would result from any major slashing of the “rites of spring.”
After our brief encounter Lou headed to his pressbox level seat to make detailed notes on the players he’d see on that day. The Reds value this special set of eyes.
Hoying continues training in Okinawa
Fort Loramie outfielder Jared Hoying is continuing pre-season workouts in Okinawa with the Hanwha Eagles of the top Korean league following eight seasons in the Texas Rangers organization that included multiple trips to the big leagues over the past two seasons.
We exchanged notes earlier this week. His time with the Okinawa portion of the pre-season ends this weekend. Then it’s back to South Korea to finish preparing for the season that begins on Saturday, March 24. He’ll also get settled into the residence that’s provided by his team before his wife and young daughter join him in about nine days. “I’m ready to move in and get my girls over here,” he exclaimed.
How’s spring training and the exhibition games?
“Not bad. Takes some getting used to. Oriental baseball relies more on changing speeds and breaking pitches than fastball oriented American major leagues. This could be an opportunity for some stolen bases. I’m in great shape and my timing is getting there. I’ll be ready for the opener.”
More from Jared in my report on Friday, March 23.
Bobo Brazil shirt draws comments
Tuesday afternoon the Reds “hosted” the Indians in the Goodyear Ballpark they share. I felt appropriately dressed in a Bobo Brazil t-shirt saluting the late pro wrestling legend who worked Michigan, Ohio, and elsewhere for several decades including a few Sidney appearances.
My shirt generated about a dozen comments, mostly from folks around my age (64) and older who’d seen him wrestle in person. One guy from Lima recounted seeing Bobo at the old Lima Sportshaven around 1971 when it took four sheriff’s deputies to remove one unruly female spectator. I responded that her name was Irene and that I’d been seated nearby.
It’s a small world if you don’t stay home. It also helps if you wear a shirt that might start a conversation.
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