ST. PETERSBURG — Lou Pinella said he would dye his hair if the Devil Rays won three straight.
Well, Tampa Bay has a streak and so does the manager’s hair.
True to his word, Pinella dyed his hair Sunday in recognition of Tampa Bay’s first three-game winning streak of the season. But anyone expecting him to go totally blond will be disappointed.
Instead, the 59-year-old manager added hints of blond on the side with a broader streak on the top for a new look, though not necessarily a more youthful appearance.
“You know what will make me look younger? More wins,” Pinella said. “That’s what will make me look younger. And more important, feel younger.”
Pinella promised last month to dye his hair if his young, last-place team won three in a row at any point this season. Saturday night’s 3-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox gave the Devil Rays their first three-game winning streak since last September.
The players picked the color, but Pinella decided how much he would change his customary salt-and-pepper look.
A stream of players and team officials stopped by his office, giving him a thumbs up, but Pinella clearly wanted to put it behind him.
“It looks all right. … Now, let’s let this thing go away,” Pinella said.
“I don’t want this to be a distraction. When this came about, it was more of a good-natured rib with the ballclub. But it’s gotten a little too much attention. I don’t think that’s good. Let it die down and let’s just focus on the players, the way it should be — on the team.”
Stylist Wilber Bonilla, who’s done work for some of the Devil Rays players, got up at 6:30 a.m. to make the 75-mile drive to Tropicana Field from his home in Brooksville, meeting Pinella in the clubhouse at around 9 a.m.
Bonilla said the dye job took about 45 minutes, including the discussion about how the manager wanted it done.
Piniella’s wife hadn’t seen the hairdo, but gave her husband strict instructions before leaving home.
“She told me not to do anything too drastic,” Pinella said. “One good thing is it’ll be gone in a month.”
Pinella said after Saturday night’s victory that he intended to rescind his offer to dye his hair if the Devil Rays had not won because he thought the pledge had the potential to become a hindrance to the team.
Going into Sunday’s game against the White Sox, the Devil Rays were 6-6 on a season-long 13-game homestand against Chicago, the New York Yankees, Atlanta and Boston. That was particularly impressive, considering they began the stretch by losing three of four to the Yankees.
“The Yankees series was a little bit of a disappointment. We should have beaten them two, and possibly three. … They just know how to win more than we do and won three out of four,” Pinella said.
“So I’m pleased. Until we can get this thing to the point where we have a nice 7-3 homestand, I’m never going to be satisfied. But that’ll come. Now what we need to do, more than anything else, is improve our road record. … You start winning with a little more consistency on the road, it becomes a little easier to win at home.”