Piniella vents frustration with criticism
CHICAGO -- Something always happens during the Cubs-White Sox series. It didn't take long for some verbal fireworks from Lou Piniella.
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Piniella unloaded on media criticism after a seemingly innocuous question about his strong rookies, and the only person he took on by name was White Sox broadcaster Steve Stone.
On June 8, Stone criticized Piniella on Comcast SportsNet for not playing rookie outfielder Tyler Colvin more.
"I think that means that Lou doesn't have a great grasp on what to do with young players," Stone said in the interview. "Because with Tyler Colvin, if you take a look at what he has accomplished in a short period of time, with limited play, you realize that he very well could be the one thing the Cubs have been looking for for six years. That's a left-handed run producer. Colvin could be that one guy. But he can't do it on the bench, so you make a decision that you play the guy."
Piniella said he's sick of hearing critiques from people that "haven't managed and won any games in the big leagues, but they think they know everything."
After railing against anonymous media for several minutes, Piniella outed Stone as the object of his ire.
"And Steve Stone, he's got enough problems doing what he does with the White Sox," Piniella said in the home dugout, his voice raising. "What job has he had in baseball besides talking on television or radio? What has he done? Why isn't he a farm director and bring some kids around? Why isn't he a general manager? Why hasn't he ever put the uniform on and be a pitching coach? Why hasn't he been a field manager? There are 30 teams out there that could use a guy's expertise like that.
"I'm tired of some of these guys, I really am. That's it. Let's go to baseball."
Before that, Piniella defended his handling of his five-man outfield rotation, which often leaves the promising Colvin on the bench.
"I've got five major league outfielders," he said. "It's not fair that I just abandon one or two of them. It's just not fair, and I'm not going to do it.
"I said I'm going to try and get Colvin in as much as I can, and that's exactly what I'm doing. Colvin's a fine young player, and he's trying to do something. Unfortunately, I've got five people here that are trying to play, also. [Friday] Colvin is not in the lineup. I've got Soriano that's hitting around .400 off of (Jake) Peavy. I've got [Kosukue] Fukudome that's 4-for-6. I've got [Marlon] Byrd out there, that's basically been our best hitter. It's a tough situation. I know that I get criticized for it."
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Stone, who is used to media attention for his often-controversial takes, took the news of Piniella's criticism with aplomb.
"He's right," Stone said. "I've never managed. I've never been a general manager. I've never been a pitching coach. But I'm in my fifth decade in this game. I think I have the right to have an opinion."
Stone was asked by ESPN Chicago if Piniella is acting out of frustration.
"I can't look into Lou's psyche. I don't know," Stone said. "I do know he's getting $4 million a year to manage. I get paid to broadcast on Comcast SportsNet and WSCR radio. I have two TV shows and two radio shows a week. I also get the MLB package, and I watch a number of games every night. I spend my winter in Arizona watching the Arizona Fall League and seeing young kids from everybody's system. I go to all of spring training and make my way around various camps.
"I've seen more baseball players than Lou has. I just haven't managed them."
So is Lou just angry?
"I like to see Lou get his blood going. ... I don't know why he's not happy," Stone said. "He's getting paid good money, and he's living in the best city in the world. But he's not happy. I'm happy."
Stone famously split with the Cubs after a long career as a broadcaster for his old team in 2004, when he criticized Dusty Baker's managing and several players on a fading team. He left the organization and joined up with the White Sox in 2008, first as a radio broadcaster, then as partner to Hawk Harrelson on the TV broadcast.
"We've got a lot of people here that haven't managed and won any games in the big leagues, but they know everything, you know?" Piniella said. "They really do. I think they should really try and put the uniform on and try this job and see how they like it when they get criticized unjustly, you know? That's all I got to say about that issue."
He wasn't done.
"But you get tired of it," Piniella said. "I'm trying to do the best job I possibly can, and the only people I need to listen to are the people in my organization, that's it. I get tired of being nitpicked, and I get tired of being criticized unjustly. Why don't they talk to me first before they do it, OK? And get my viewpoints and my feelings and then make a determination.
"You know? The same way I get called 'ridiculous,' they're ridiculous in the way they report things, too."
The reporter who started the rant then tried to get in a question about Peavy, before Piniella continued, finally naming Stone as a primary agitator.
"And another thing I'm going to say. I've won over 1,800 games as a manager, and I'm not a damn dummy," Piniella said. "There are only 13 others that have won more games than me, so I guess I think I know what the hell I'm doing."
Stone added: "Lou's probably grumpy, because he only went 3-for-11 against me with no RBIs."
Jon Greenberg is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com. Bruce Levine contributed information to this report.