In-demand Piniella rules out Nationals job

Updated: October 11, 2006, 1:43 AM ET
By Jerry Crasnick |

OAKLAND -- Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and tens of thousands of on-line poll respondents weren't alone in their opinion that the New York Yankees did the right thing in retaining Joe Torre as manager in 2007.

Lou Piniella, briefly mentioned as the likely candidate to succeed Torre if the Yankees decided to make a change, said New York management made the right move in retaining Torre for next season.

"Joe's done a great job over there. He's been great for that organization," Piniella said from McAfee Coliseum, where he is broadcasting the AL Championship Series between Detroit and Oakland for Fox. "I'm happy for him. I'm just sorry that he had to go through that rigamarole."

Piniella reiterated that he was "stunned" when his name surfaced in the New York Daily News, which reported that the Yankees planned to fire Torre after the team's American League Division Series loss to Detroit on Saturday. Piniella said he had no discussions with Yankees owner George Steinbrenner about managing the club.

Still, Piniella is a popular guy after his one-year managerial hiatus, and he's in the mix for enough jobs that he can expect to be pestered for comment in the press box every night. While he has publicly backed away from the Washington Nationals job, he remains a candidate for openings with Texas, San Francisco and the Chicago Cubs.

Piniella confirmed that he met Tuesday morning with San Francisco general manager Brian Sabean. The Giants, looking to replace Felipe Alou, also plan to interview bench coach Ron Wotus for the job.

Piniella and Sabean previously worked together in the Yankees organization and are old friends. "We had a nice meeting," Piniella said. "We talked baseball and we talked about old times."

Piniella, who is trying to keep a low profile while several clubs court him, expressed surprise when an account of his meeting with Sabean appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle.

"How does this stuff get out?" Piniella asked reporters. "If I ever want to find somebody, the heck with Scotland Yard. I'll just get you guys to do it."

Jerry Crasnick covers baseball for ESPN Insider. His book "License To Deal" has been published by Rodale.

Jerry Crasnick | email MLB Sr. Writer