Lou Piniella joins YES Network

"Sweet Lou" added as a special contributor for YES
02/22/2012 3:44 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

"Sweet Lou" is back in the Yankees family. (AP)
"Sweet Lou" is back in pinstripes.

During a media conference call on Wednesday, the YES Network announced that former New York Yankees player, manager, and general manager Lou Piniella has joined YES as a special contributor.

According to YES' President of Production and Programming, John J. Filippelli, Piniella will be part of at least 20-30 broadcasts in a multitude of roles, including on-site game analyst, pre- and post-game studio analyst, and contributor to YES special event programming. A press release issued by YES revealed that "Sweet Lou" will also be contributing to, and will be Michael Kay's guest on an upcoming episode of CenterStage.

"With five decades of experience as a player, coach, manager and general manager, Lou brings a rare combination of in-depth knowledge and experience to YES which is second to none," Filippelli said in the release, adding during the call that "I've known Lou for a very long time ... to have someone as iconic as Lou join our ranks is a thrill."

For Piniella, joining YES is a homecoming that he couldn't be more excited about.

"I'm honored and excited to join YES Network and be part of the Yankee family again," he said during the call. "It's a thrill to go back to my roots. I played on great teams in New York, and managed some very good teams there as well. John (Filippelli) was gracious enough to give me this great opportunity, for which I'm very grateful."

Piniella, who makes his home in the Tampa area, also said that being able to stay close to home is an added bonus.

"I've had opportunities in other areas, but this keeps me home a lot. Spring Training is right here in Tampa, and I'll be available when the Yanks come to St. Pete (to play the Tampa Bay Rays). Whatever John needs me for, I'm there."

Piniella's addition to the YES Network actually marks his second stint as a Yankees broadcaster, as he called some games for the MSG Network in 1989. But while his television experience is limited to that and another season with FOX, "Sweet Lou" knows he can draw on his 41 years of experience as a player or manager in the Major Leagues to help him get settled.

"The first game I did with FOX was Mets vs. Marlins; I thought I was really prepared, but by the sixth inning, I was out of material and couldn't wait for the game to finish!" Lou laughed. "But as I gained more experience, I got more relaxed and had more fun with it. Explaining the strategies of the game will be easy for me because I've done that my whole life, but making it fun and interesting for the people watching the ballgame is the challenge."

His first chance will come soon, as Filippelli revealed that one of Lou's spring games will be YES' first broadcast of the season: the Yankees' spring home opener against Philadelphia on March 4. That game will give Piniella his first full look at some of the newest Bombers, for whom he had high praise during the conference call.

"They have a wonderful rotation, and a great bullpen," Piniella said. "Michael Pineda has a big arm and big future ahead of him, and when you have two young pitchers like Ivan Nova and Pineda to go with a horse like CC (Sabathia) and veterans like Hiroki Kuroda and Freddy Garcia, that will be great. I also had Raul Ibanez in Seattle when he was young ... there's still some thunder in his bat, and I think that right field fence in Yankee Stadium is in trouble."

There is one thing, though, that Piniella said he definitely won't be doing anytime soon.

"Please...I retired from managing in August 2010, and I'm going to stay retired!" he laughed when jokingly asked if manager Joe Girardi should be worried. "I'm just appreciative for this chance; the Yankees organization is very special to me, and I'm going to enjoy this." comments