St. Petersburg, Fla. During the weekend, Lou Piniella predicted there would be a lot of attention given to speculation about the Tampa native becoming the next Tampa Bay Devil Rays manager.
The Seattle Mariners manager was right.
Piniella was greeted Monday by a Tampa Tribune headline: "Lou, Rays seem to be perfect fit."
"I can't do anything about rumors. I can't do anything about speculation," Piniella said before Monday's opener of the Mariners-Devil Rays series. "The last time I looked, Tampa Bay had a pretty good manager. I do know this. I don't know anything."
Piniella is in the final year of his contract. Talk about Piniella replacing Larry Rothschild has grown with each Tampa Bay defeat.
"I don't like having my name associated in any place where a manager has a job," Piniella said. "Larry is a good friend. I feel awkward, as much for him as I do myself. Basically, what we're taking about right here is only speculation."
The Devil Rays are floundering both on the field and at the turnstile. The third-year franchise will likely lose around 95 games this season and and entered Monday with an average home attendance of 19,337.
Rothschild declined to talk about the situation before Monday's contest.
Speculation is Piniella, who resides in the Tampa area during the offseason, could address both problem areas.
"My personal future will take care of itself when the season is over ... hopefully it's well into October," Piniella said. "I don't want any distractions from this pennant race. That is No. 1."
Rothschild is signed through the 2001 season. Tampa Bay general manager Chuck LaMar has said he planned to evaluate his on-field staff in early October.