CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs' season took another strange turn Sunday when manager Lou Piniella announced he was leaving the team for good and retiring after that afternoon's game against the Atlanta Braves.
Piniella, who originally announced his retirement July 20 effective after the season, cited his mother's health issues as the reason he made the decision to quit now.
"I had a nice meeting with the players and thanked them and wished them well," Piniella said of his early-morning meeting with the team. "I did the same thing with my coaching staff. I've been blessed. I have had the same coaching staff here for four years. I was thinking that Oct. 3 would be my last day, but it hasn't worked out that way."
Piniella returned to Tampa, Fla., twice in the past month, to attend the funeral of his uncle and to help hire a caregiver for his 90-year-old mother.
"I called her last night, and I told her 'I'll see you Monday' and she cried," Piniella said.
The Cubs' up-and-down 2010 season has been filled with stories of failure on the field and "Cubbie occurrences" -- as Piniella liked to call them -- off the field. The Carlos Zambrano meltdown on June 25, as well as veteran players who had contributed to their back-to-back division titles being traded, all were a part of an unsettled season for the Cubs.
Piniella was working on the final year of a three-year contract and a one-year option that was picked up by the team at the end of last season.
He was asked to reflect on his time with the Cubs.
"I haven't had time to reflect on it," he said. "I'm going to enjoy the day. At least I'm going to try and enjoy the day as much as possible. I've been blessed. God's given me the health and ability to do this job, and I'm appreciative. When I announced my retirement earlier in the season, I thought I would finish the year. Unfortunately, that hasn't happened. I'll have plenty of time to reflect. I will."
Piniella said he was happy to end his career in Chicago.
"I've enjoyed it. Wonderful place to work. Wonderful people to work with and for," Piniella said. "To end a career in a place like Wrigley in a city like Chicago with these great fans, I couldn't be more appreciative to the Cubs organization."