ORLANDO, Fla. _ It's all about the managers today. We'll meet with Mike Quade this afternoon. This morning, MLB put on a really nice panel that featured Lou Piniella, Cito Gaston and Joe Torre, all of whom have retired. Bobby Cox was supposed to be here, but he had to leave to tend to personal business.
11:45 a.m. CST UPDATE: Walking the lobby, a few of us ran into Craig Landis, the agent for White Sox free agent Paul Konkerko. Landis said he did not wish to comment or be quoted, but he did convey that talks between the Sox and Konerko are ongoing but that nothing is imminent and that no signing will be announced today. More from Kenny Williams later.
I was able to ask both Joe and Lou about Ron Santo. Joe played against Ronnie, and Lou worked with him the last four seasons in Ronnie's role as radio analyst.
"Look, we've lost a true friend, and Chicago has lost an icon," Lou said. "Just a wonderful, wonderful sports figure. He loved the Chicago Cubs. I was a manager getting beat this past summer and I had to get him up when we would talk. My life was enriched from knowing Ron Santo for the past four years, and I really enjoyed working with him and talking to him."
Added Joe: "Got to know him. We were fortunate enough to be on a number of all-star teams together. Never lost his sense of excitement for the game, always loved the game. Right up to the last time I saw him when he had his legs amputated and knowing what he was dealing with his whole life, the enthusiasm he maintained for life, and the game of baseball, I just feel very privileged to have known him."
We'll have more on this for the paper and online later today, but suffice it so say it was a lot of fun to listen to these guys talk baseball. "You made this game better for your generation," Commissioner Bud Selig told the former managers.
We'll get to more Cubs stuff here now.
Lou was asked about the Ricketts family and how the new owners could get things going right.
"Give them a little time,” he said. “It's amazing. I managed four years in Chicago and had three different ownership groups. I managed three years at Tampa Bay and had two different ownership groups. I guess I'm an ownership...It's unbelievable. The last seven years I managed, I had five different owners. That's a lot. But the Ricketts, look, first of all, they're good people. They want what's best for the city of Chicago and what's best for the Chicago Cubs. They're learning the game of baseball. It's not an easy game. They've got good people in the front office. They've got a good staff on the field. The farm system, I thought we had some good young players coming. You give them some time. And with the passion they have for it and the fact that they want to win, they're going to bring a winner to Chicago in a short period of time."
That, of course, remains to be seen. Lou did say he’s definitely retired as a manager.
Our old pal Ken Rosenthal tweets that the Sox have interest in former Cub Kerry Wood:
The Cubs have had some mild interest. If Wood is looking to get closer's money though, he might find it a tough marketplace out there.
We’ll see both Jim Hendry and Kenny Williams this evening. Jim said he met late last night with Scott Boras, the agent for first baseman Carlos Pena. There does not seem to be anything imminent on that front.