It was flashback day at Reds training camp Wednesday. Lou Piniella was back in his familiar Cincinnati uniform with the wishbone C on his hat in his new role as senior adviser to the club he led to the 1990 World Series title.
“I look forward to this,” Piniella said. “I’m excited and thankful the owner, Bob Castellini, got me back here. He’s been trying to get me back here over the years in different capacities but the timing never worked out. I’ve always been proud of my association with this organization with a lot of history and tradition, and it’s the only World Series I ever won as a manager so I’m extremely gratified to be here.”
Piniella proudly displayed that 1990 championship ring on his right hand, and he admits he is still learning what “senior adviser” means.
“I had Bryan as my pitching coach in Seattle and I think the world of him,” the 72-year old said. “I’m going to help him in any capacity I can. I’m also going to help Walt (Jocketty) a little bit with the evaluation of these players, and also maybe get involved a little with Don Long on the hitting.”
Piniella also will serve as Grand Marshall of the Findlay Market Parade on Opening Day and throw out the ceremonial first pitch, although he joked that the latter might take a while since he hasn’t thrown a ball in five years or so.
“You know in Cincinnati the Reds are bigger than life there,” he said. “I didn’t realize that until I became the manager in 1990. It’s a wonderful, wonderful experience.”
Piniella started his pro career in 1962 in Selma, Ala. He played 18 big-league seasons and managed five teams for 18 more, so there’s no better judge of talent.
“I know one thing is for sure, when you have young talent like this in camp there are a lot of opportunities,” Piniella pointed out. “These kids are going to have a wonderful opportunity to compete and make this team.”
Just like those young players, Piniella is a rookie once again … and loving every minute of it.