09/30/08 6:14 PM ET
Cubs pick up Piniella's option for '10
'He still has the passion to want to win,' GM Hendry says
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
"I've had fun here and we've had some success here," Piniella said. "Hopefully, we can give the people what they want here during the time I'm here."
Piniella signed a three-year deal with an option year in October 2006 and has led the Cubs to the National League Central title in his two seasons. This year, the Cubs posted the best record in the National League and second-highest win total in Piniella's career.
"It's a grind, and he's 65 years old and he still has the passion to want to win and get after it every day," Hendry said of Piniella. "I don't think anything makes him feel better besides his family than winning ballgames."
"I've said it's hard work, and I should be tired because I'm older, but as long as I have the passion and enjoy it, why not?" Piniella said. "I do the best I can; that's all I can do. I do what's best for the players and best for the organization and take pride in what we do here."
The Cubs lost 96 games in 2006 before Piniella took over and the club spent $300 million in the offseason, which led to an 85-77 record in 2007. They were swept in the NL Division Series by Arizona last year. This season, the Cubs finished 97-64. In Piniella's two seasons, the Cubs have undergone a 31 1/2-game turnaround.
Cubs chairman Crane Kenney approached Piniella about the extension about 10 days ago and got the go-ahead from Tribune Co. owner Sam Zell to complete the deal. Hendry said he knew he had the right man who could turn things around with the Cubs.
"He's been great to work with, upfront guy, honest," Hendry said. "We've had a lot of great, healthy discussions on players; he's been a tremendous asset in the player development department."
The decision was finalized Tuesday, and Hendry told Piniella during the workout prior to the start of the NLDS between the Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers. Game 1 is on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. CT on TBS.
"Obviously, nobody doesn't want Lou so it was really never an issue," Hendry said.
The Cubs were able to get the deal approved despite being in the midst of being sold by the parent Tribune Co.
"I think it's a positive to do right now and not wait until the end of the year and read about people getting extensions and things like that," Hendry said. "I think Lou's happy about it and he's good to go with it."
Will 2010 be Piniella's last year?
"I've said, basically, I'm not going to be a lifer," Piniella said. "I want to do things with my life. I've been blessed. God's given me health. My wife's been patient with me. We haven't taken too many summer vacations in the last 41 years we've been married. I would think it would be very close, yes."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.