Baseball Report

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After 22 years as a major league manager, “Sweet Lou” is ready to hang it up.

Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella announced last week that he will retire from managing at the end of this season.

“I’ve been away from home since 1962,” Piniella said. “That’s about 50 years.”

The Cubs won two NL Central Division titles under Piniella, but were swept in the first round of the playoffs in 2007 by Arizona and in 2008 by Los Angeles. Last season, Chicago didn’t reach the postseason, and the Cubs have struggled this year, entering this week with a 45-54 record, 10 1/2 games out of first.

“I’ve been extremely appreciative of my four years here with the Chicago Cubs,” Piniella added. “It has been a wonderful experience, a wonderful city, wonderful fans. But at the end of this year I turn 67 and it’s time for me to get on with a new phase of my life.”

Piniella has a 310-273 record with the Cubs in three-plus seasons, and is 1,829-1,693 in his career as a manager, trailing just Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox and Joe Torre in active wins.

As manager of the Cincinnati Reds in 1990, Piniella led his club to a World Series championship. In 2001, he guided the Seattle Mariners to a 116-46 regular season record before losing to the New York Yankees in the ALCS.

Piniella was named the AL Rookie of the Year in 1969 when he hit .282 with 11 home runs and 68 RBIs with Kansas City. He was traded to the Yankees at the end of the 1973 season, and went on to win two World Series in New York, both times over the Dodgers.

Over the course of his 18-year playing career, Piniella hit 102 homers with 766 RBIs and finished with a .291 batting average.

Who’s next for Cubs?: Now that Piniella is exiting, the Cubs begin their managerial search in earnest. Bench coach Alan Trammell could be on their list, as well as Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who is in the last year of his contract. Also Cubs broadcaster and former Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly might be considered.

But former Cubs second baseman and Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg appears to be the favorite. Sandberg has moved up through the Cubs farm system as a manager, and is currently at Triple-A Iowa.

“I’d like to have a shot at it,” Sandberg said. “I think (the Cubs are) one organization that knows what I’m doing and, basically, knows how I feel. If I’m part of that process, I’d be delighted with that consideration. The whole goal of any minor leaguer is to get to the major leagues, and I think that includes coaches and managers like myself.”

New Hall of Famers: Andre Dawson was inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown on Sunday, topping off a brilliant 21-year career. Dawson, who played for the Montreal Expos and Chicago Cubs, was an eight-time All-Star. He hit 438 home runs with 1,591 RBIs and stole 314 bases in a career that stretched from 1976-96.

Others who were inducted were former manager Whitey Herzog, umpire Doug Harvey, broadcaster Jon Miller and sports writer Bill Madden.

StatsWatch: A couple of American League players and one from the National League are in the hunt for a Triple Crown (batting title, home run and RBI champion) this season. Here are the stats of Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton, Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera and Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (at the start of this week):

Josh Hamilton, Rangers, .357 AVG (1st in AL); 23 HRs (3rd); 74 RBIs (4th).

Miguel Cabrera, Tigers, .350 AVG (2nd); 24 HRs (2nd); 88 RBIs (1st).

Joey Votto, Reds, .315 AVG (4th in NL); 25 HRs (1st); 67 RBIs (5th).

Diamond Notes: San Diego Padres manager Bud Black agreed last week to a three-year contract extension. The Padres had the NL’s best record at 58-39 going into this week. Black has a 285-299 record in three-plus seasons with the Padres, who have been in first place in the NL West all but three days since April 20…Andy Pettitte is expected to miss at least a month after suffering a left groin strain in the Yankees win on July 18 over Tampa Bay. Pettitte is 11-2 with a 2.88 ERA this year…Detroit third baseman Brandon Inge is on the disabled list with a broken left hand. He was injured when hit by a pitch in a game last week. Teammate Magglio Ordonez joined Inge on the DL with a broken right ankle, suffered on Saturday. He’ll be out six to eight weeks…Dodgers left-fielder Manny Ramirez is on the 15-day DL for the third time this season with a right calf strain.

Copyright © 2010 Bob Hurst. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Hurst Sports Media.

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