07/06/2003 12:53 PM ET
Piniella dye-ing for more wins
Dye job earns praise, jeers and respect
ST. PETERSBURG -- If it's true that blonds have more fun, then Lou Piniella is going to have a blast.
By Paul C. Smith / MLB.com
The Devil Rays skipper spent 45 minutes on Sunday morning in the team's clubhouse having blond highlights dyed into his hair by Wilber Bonilla of Bangs in Brooksville, Fla.
"It blends in nicely,'' Bonilla said. "It will be an easier color for him to go out (on the town) with. Red hair just wouldn't have worked.''
Rays players watched and hooted while Piniella had coloring put in that will last about a month before it grows out.
"It's cute,'' said Aubrey Huff, who has short, bright yellow hair the players were hoping to match. "I was hoping for a little more (blond). But I think that's it. He's done.''
Bonilla said Piniella gave him explicit instructions.
"He didn't want to go all blond, so we had to compromise,'' Bonilla said.
Piniella said he got his orders from a very important source.
"You know what will make me look younger? More wins. And more importantly, feel younger."
-- Lou Piniella
"My wife (Anita) told me when I left home this morning not to do anything too drastic,'' Piniella said. "One good thing, it'll be gone in a month.''
The players got to color Piniella's hair after they answered his month-old challenge of winning three games in a row. On Sunday morning, many of them enjoyed taking peeks at Piniella in his office and making cracks.
"It's cool, man,'' said Carl Crawford, who then stopped short of saying he was going to invite the 59-year-old manager to hang out with him after the game.
"It looks good,'' said Rocco Baldelli.
"It makes him look a little younger,'' starter Joe Kennedy said. "It's a good look for our young team.''
Piniella had an immediate retort for his players.
"You know what will make me look younger? More wins,'' Piniella said. "And more importantly, feel younger.''
Al Martin, the Rays' veteran clubhouse leader, figures Piniella was a little self-conscious about his first, big return to Seattle next weekend.
"It looks good, but I thought it was going to be more drastic,'' Martin said. "We'll wait for the green tint to show up in about a week.''
Martin added that it was very important that Piniella follow through on his promise.
"I've got a lot of respect for him, that he would do that for us to win three in a row,'' Martin said. "Now, we have to keep winning, so he doesn't think we did it just for the hair.''
Shortstop Julio Lugo also was impressed that Piniella would go through with it.
"I love it, because it means a lot,'' Lugo said. "It means he'll do anything for the team to win.''
The Rays were going after their fourth win in a row on Sunday against the White Sox. Now that they have accomplished their challenge from Piniella, they were asked about possible other challenges.
Such as, what the team would do if Jason Tyner, who has not hit a homer in 2,318 professional at-bats, ever hit one out.
"Fold,'' joked Martin.
Lugo gave the Tyner challenge a more interesting twist.
"If he hits a walk-off home run, I'll shave my head,'' Lugo said.
Paul C. Smith is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.