St. Petersburg, Fla. Lou Piniella will not return as manager of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays next season, a decision that had long been expected after he questioned ownership's commitment to winning.
"We've got a new ownership group taking over. They need to bring in their own manager that they can grow with," Piniella said Friday night, when the Devil Rays began a season-ending series against Baltimore.
"At the same time, it'll give me time to go home and relax, fish and play some golf. I'm tired. I need some time off. It'll give me a chance to do those things, and at the same time to evaluate and look at situations that might arise about my future."
Piniella had one season remaining on a $13 million, four-year contract he signed in October 2002 but, according to the terms of a buyout, will be free to pursue other jobs after Sunday's finale.
He stressed he didn't walk away because he had his sights on moving to another team, and reiterated that he eventually may decide to sit out next year to travel and spend time with family.
"There's nothing on the horizon," Piniella said. "There's nothing to speculate about."
The buyout, one of the worst-kept secrets in baseball, was finalized two weeks ago and announced Friday.
It calls for Piniella to receive $2.2 million of the $4.4 million he was due next season, as well as $1.25 million in deferred salary from 2003.
If the 62-year-old manager accepts a job with another team, the Devil Rays could recoup some or all of the money owed for next season.
The Devil Rays offered no timetable for naming a replacement.