CHICAGO — Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella announced Tuesday that he will retire at the end of the season, ending a storied and often colorful career that included 18 years in the majors as a player and another 22 as a manager.
The 66-year-old Piniella, who was AL Rookie of the Year in 1969 with the Kansas City Royals, made five trips to the World Series in his career and has three championship rings, said he was looking forward to spending more time with his family. He didn't rule out consulting for the Cubs or another team, but made it clear he was getting out of the daily grind.
"It's been a wonderful experience," he said. "There's no way that I won't cherish the memories here."
But, he added: "I've been away from home since 1962. That's about 50 years."
General manager Jim Hendry said former Cubs Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, now a minor league manager in Des Moines, will be a candidate for the job. He said Piniella's replacement won't be hired before the end of the season.
"It's not going to be a two-week process," said Hendry, who was endorsed for at least one more year by new owner Tom Ricketts.
One of the Cubs, slugger Derrek Lee, said he was surprised by the timing and that Piniella will be missed.
"He doesn't like to lose," Lee said. "He's had a great career, put a lot of time into this game."
Announcing his retirement now, Piniella said, gives the team time to find a replacement.
"I'm proud of our accomplishments during my time here and this will be a perfect way for me to end my career," he said. "But let me make one thing perfectly clear: Our work is far from over. I want to keep the momentum going more than anything else and win as many games as we can to get back in this pennant race."
Entering Tuesday's game against Houston, Piniella's overall record was 1,826-1,691 (.519) and he trails only Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox and Joe Torre in victories among active managers.
His record with the Cubs was 307-271, and he is in the fourth and final year of his contract. After leading the Cubs to consecutive NL Central titles in 2007-08, Piniella and his team missed the playoffs last year and have struggled again this season with a new owner in charge. The Cubs have gone 102 years without a World Series title.
A right-handed outfielder for the Royals, Piniella was the AL Rookie of the Year in 1969 after batting .282, 11 home runs and 68 RBIs. He was traded to the Yankees in 1973 and ended his playing career with New York in 1984.
In all, Piniella played 18 years in the majors — 11 with the Yankees — and was a career .291 hitter.
He began managing in 1986 with the Yankees and lasted three years, including a stint as general manager. He managed the Reds from 1990-92, leading them to a World Series championship in his first season. He also got national attention for a clubhouse wrestling match with reliever Rob Dibble.
Dibble, part of the "Nasty Boys" bullpen, said Piniella "was one of us." He downplayed their 1992 tussle as overblown.
"We butted heads once. It's way more famous than it should be. We've been family ever since," Dibble said. "During batting practice every day, Lou would go to every guy just to see how you were doing — not as a player, but as a person. I'll always respect him for that. I always thought that was one of the best qualities about him, that he always cared about you as a person first, a baseball player second.
"There's a time for us all," he said. "It's hard to keep that pace without having a heart attack."