Lou Piniella will not return to manage the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, according to a report published on the Tampa Tribune's Web site.
Piniella will take a $2.2 million buyout, two baseball sources told the Tribune; he was scheduled to be paid $4.4 in the final season of a four-year contract.
In addition, the Devil Rays will reportedly pay Piniella $1.25 million in salary deferred from 2003, his first season as Tampa Bay's manager.
The agreement would allow Piniella to take any job in broadcasting or with another major league organization.
But before the game, Piniella declined to discuss the reports. "I'm going to steal a page from Joe Torre, and I'm not going to comment about this at all until the end of the year," Piniella said. "My primary concern here is our team and our players. I don't want any distractions. When the time is appropriate, we'll comment about my situation."
The Devil Rays also declined to comment.
Agent Alan Nero started negotiating an exit strategy for Piniella in June, shortly after Piniella publicly vocalized his displeasure with the team's ownership for not fulfilling the promises made when Piniella signed a four-year, $13 million contract after Seattle traded his negotiating rights to the Devil Rays in exchange for OF Randy Winn. Piniella maintained that the team said it would spend more money for talent.
"When I came here three years ago, we were talking about a situation where we wanted to win now, and we were interested in winning now,'' Piniella said in Pittsburgh on June 12. "And you know what, with a small payroll, we've improved from 55 [victories in 2002] to 63 and from 63 to 70 [in 2004].
"This was supposed to be the breakout year. The problem is, we got a new ownership group here that's changed the direction of where we're heading. . . . They're interested about the future, and that's their right.''
The Devil Rays' record stands at 64-89 after beating the Red Sox last night, 7-4.
* SHUT DOWN: Tigers RHP Jeremy Bonderman will miss the remainder of the season due to a sore elbow.
Bonderman, 1-7 in his last eight starts, missed two September outings with a tender elbow before starting Monday at Kansas City. He gave up seven runs on 11 hits, including Matt Stairs' three-run homer, in 42/3 innings.
"Bonderman is not going to pitch the rest of the season," Manager Alan Trammell said. "We made that decision just before the game."
-- From News Services