ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Oct. 22 (UPI) -- The Tampa Bay Devil Rays met with Lou Piniella for the second time in five days on Tuesday and were expected to formally offer him their managerial job, but Commisioner Bud Selig made sure that the continuing saga of the former Seattle Mariners manager would not steal headlines from the World Series, which resumes Tuesday night in San Francisco.
Devil Rays general manager Chuck LaMar was to address the media regarding Piniella at a Tuesday afternoon news conference, but instead the team issued the following statement.
"The Commissioner's Office has informed the Devil Rays and other clubs this afternoon that there will be no comments on any subject until the World Series is completed."
Commissioner Selig had asked teams to refrain from making major announcements during the World Series, which began last Saturday.
The New York Daily News reported Tuesday that the Devil Rays offered Piniella, a Tampa native, a four-year contract worth more than $13 million.
The Devil Rays first met with Piniella for several hours on Saturday morning, one day after reaching a compensation agreement with the Mariners which enabled them to begin negotiating with Piniella, Seattle's manager for the last 10 years.
Piniella announced last week that he was leaving the Mariners because he wants to manage closer to home. Since he has a year remaining on his contract with Seattle, the Mariners are entitled to compensation if Piniella manages elsewhere in 2003.
The New York Mets also are interested in Piniella, but have been unable to reach a compensation agreement with the Mariners.
"In principle, he (Piniella) wants to wait for the Mets. But will he wait?" Piniella's agent Alan Nero told the New York Post. "If he feels he wants to wait, I will be the champion of that cause.
"But if he feels it's an offer he can't refuse, if his heart and mind tell him to take the (Tampa Bay) job, I'll be behind that as well. There's a groundswell in the community to have Lou here."
Devil Rays managing general partner and chief executive officer Vincent Naimoli and LaMar characterized Saturday's meeting with Piniella and Nero as "positive and constructive."
LaMar has previously interviewed Oakland Athletics bench coach Ken Macha and New York Yankees coaches Willie Randolph and Lee Mazzilli, but admitted last Friday that Piniella is at the top of the team's wish list.
"He was a winner as a player and is a proven winner as a major league manager" LaMar said of Piniella. "I believe in my heart he is the right man for the job. Lou will know how much we'd like him to be our manager."
Piniella, 59, who has three grown children, graduated from high school in Tampa and attended the University of Tampa.
The Devil Rays tied for the worst record in the major leagues last season at 55-106 and fired manager Hal McRae.
Piniella guided the Mariners to an American League-record 116 wins in 2001 and was rewarded with AL Manager of the Year honors. But Seattle fell six games shy of the playoffs this season and Piniella reportedly was upset that the team did not make more midseason moves.
The most successful manager in team history, Piniella guided the Mariners to three straight playoff appearances and four in the last eight years.
Under Piniella, Seattle went 840-711 and reached the ALCS in 1995, 2000 and 2001. Piniella has a career managerial mark of 1,319-1,135 and guided the Cincinnati Reds to a World Series title in 1990.