Q. Do you have any updates on
TONY LA RUSSA: I haven't seen Mo since
I got here. You probably know more than I do.
Q. It seemed like coming out of the
regular season and coming into this off-season
that you guys were at least somewhat open to
the possibility of not adding a guy for the ninth
and going with what you had. It now seems
like you all are aggressively pursuing
somebody. Has there been a change in the
TONY LA RUSSA: No, I think -- I'm not
sure where that impression came. I never said
that. I don't know exactly how Dunc or Mo might
have answered it.
But I can watch our season and not think
that one of our key winter objectives would be to
do something to improve our pen, and I just count
on the guys improving that were there. Whether
you do it or not, you've got to try, and it's just a
question of priority.
I actually moved the bullpen and pitching
even above what I had been talking about for two
winters, which is the fourth-place hitter.
Yeah, it's a priority. Now, if you can get
them, you can get them. If you can't get them, you
can't get them.
Q. How do you see that working
ideally, Tony, if you do add somebody for the
ninth inning but yet you have these young guys
who have been groomed to be in that role eventually? Do you see anything to impede
their growth there or do you think that would
actually help them as opposed to being thrown
TONY LA RUSSA: It's just like -- say you
have Colby Rasmus who's got a chance to be a
real good Major League hitter and you had no
Albert Pujols, so you've got to hit him third before
he's ready to hit there. That would not be good for
Colby. It would be much better to work at kind of --
at the right pace.
I played with Chris Perez last year. You
look at him and it's obvious that he's got a lot of
exciting ability, but there are things that you need
to do to have a high conversion rate late in the
game, but he's still learning. So you try not to put
him there until he makes that improvement. I think
if we can get a true ninth inning guy, it allows us to
bring along Chris and Jason, and it will be better
for all of us.
Q. I know this is not necessarily your
job, but if that guy requires a large bulk of what
y'all have left in terms of payroll room, would
you still advocate doing that?
TONY LA RUSSA: I think it's the number
one priority, so, yeah, I have no problem. I think if
we can get that guy, it would be an important move
for us this winter. But the way I look at it, you
know, we're close to having a good club. We're
close to having enough starting pitching, we're
close to having enough relieving, we're close to
having enough offense.
So if you take care of your first priority,
you've done something significant, and then you
keep looking and see if there's something else you
Q. You say you're close to having a
good club. Do you see this as right now as
good as last year's club?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, it's better than
last year's club because you have a whole year of
at-bats for Ankiel, Ludwick and Schumaker. You
also have Lohse that we know is with us. I think
Pineiro will be improved this year. You got
Wellemeyer with a year of experience and health.
I think Khalil is a good fit for our club.
So on paper we're better, and if we can
just make a move or two, it will be significant.
Q. How big a variable realistically is
Greene for you? If he is what he was two years
ago, it would suggest one thing than if he were
what he was last year. There's a huge swing
there. How do you put him within the lineup
and look at it whether he's good or not good?
How do you look at it?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I think the bulk of
his career has been productive and exciting, the
way he plays defense. He's got extra base pop in
his base. I don't have any issue with a quiet
player, him being quiet. I had Harold Baines early
in his career, and the Chicago fans were slow to
warm to him because he wasn't sliding at first. But
after you watch him, you say, this guy is competing
as fierce as anybody.
Quiet or whatever your personality is, I just
think he had a tough year last year, and that's one
reason we got him.
But I talked to him. His anger and hurting
himself, that's healing, and he's feeling great. I
mean, I think he'll be what he's been most of his
career, a productive offensive player and a sound
Q. If you get the pitching you need,
you're going to have to maybe compromise
those other places. Mo has been fairly
straightforward saying he thinks Kennedy is
your starting second baseman right now, and
that's the way he projects it. Is that something
that you can say you're comfortable with?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, all I know is that
the difference between Adam last year and his first
year was significant. His first year, for whatever
reason, you know, he wasn't the same player he's
been. I think he might have gotten upset, but, I
mean, really, I probably played him more than I
should have, showing patience because of what he
did in his career. Last year he was more himself,
so then it comes down to is he going to work as
hard and be as ready this spring, which I think he
It's a competition. If somebody is better
than Albert, we'll play him, but who's better than
Albert? I think it's likely that on paper that Adam
figures to be the best guy to play second base. I'm
not sure what else we can do.
Brendan Ryan is in the club, he's on our
roster. Brendan Ryan outplays Adam, if he
outplays Khalil, he plays short. I don't think you
can afford to get bogged down on something like
that. It's supposed to be a competition, and the
best guy plays.
Q. Is there anything that needs to be
resolved with Adam?
TONY LA RUSSA: No, I mean, we talked
about it at the end of the season. He just wants to
play, and I think it was a mutual respect thing. I
thought he handled himself really well the times he
didn't play. He ended up on a plus note. I think
he's been quoted as something, he said it over the
radio or something, that he just wants to play, and
if he has a chance to play in St. Louis he has no
problem playing here.
Q. Have you talked to him?
TONY LA RUSSA: I have not talked to
Q. When you describe this team as
better on paper, is it your impression or is it
your hope that you can satisfy that number one
priority without the moving from what you guys
have in place right now?
TONY LA RUSSA: Signing a free agent,
TONY LA RUSSA: I know we're talking to
Fuentes. I don't know if we're going to get him. I
know he likes our situation, we like him. It seems
like it's a perfect fit. So I don't know. If we don't
get him, we'll see what's next.
Q. You talked to him personally, right?
TONY LA RUSSA: I was in the room when
he came in to meet us. Plus I had a couple
All-Star experiences with him. I mean, I know he's
Q. Did you get a vibe from him
personally that the situation -- that y'all's
situation appeals to him?
TONY LA RUSSA: Yeah, I think we had
the advantage that we had three or four
teammates that he spent time with that talked
about playing for the Cardinals, pitching for Doug,
Marty, et cetera. So I think that part of it is -- I just
think it's an economic issue.
Q. Are you willing or able or both to
call that guy first choice? Is that an accurate
TONY LA RUSSA: From day one. He's
been the guy that fit us the best. You know, we
have a strong right-hand relief core, whether it's a
veteran like Ryan covering Kenny or Brad
Thompson or the two kids. A left-handed reliever,
quality like Ryan, from day one, he's the guy who
was our first choice. And I'm excited that here we
are and we're still in the hunt and he's still
Q. Just for argument's sake, if you get
a quality free agent reliever, say Fuentes, and
you have to commit significant money to him,
that leaves you not a whole lot of wiggle room
financially. There still seems a sense from
some folks that maybe it would be good if you
added depth to your rotation. Are you square
with dealing from a strength, say your outfield,
to get say a starting pitcher, or do you think
that exposes you offensively if you were to do
something like that?
TONY LA RUSSA: I think the two answers
are, one, you keep paying attention to free agents,
because as time passes, guys don't get the deal
they want to and all of a sudden you might be able
to get a guy for a year or two.
I think secondly, we do have outfield
depth. So if it's a way to make a move for a pitcher
using one of our outfielders, I think it's a smart
move to make, as long as -- you've got to prioritize
who's a guy that makes the most sense to hold
onto versus make available in trade.
I mean, I said before, we were talking
about Colby -- were you here when we were
talking about Colby a minute ago? If our infield
situation was our outfield situation, if we were
leaning on the infield, Colby might have been a
biggie last year. But we're not. He's going to be a
big leaguer, but he's fighting more competition. So
that translates into maybe being able to make a
Q. The question I get a lot, and I
answer it one way but I may be wrong, there
seems to be a sense from people that you have
a special affinity for Rick not only as a person
but also as a player, and people wonder would
you be torn about dealing a guy like that? If he
was a guy who brought you what you wanted,
obviously he's a power guy and a good
outfielder, I don't know if you consider him a
core guy, but how would you come down on a
player of that significance having to go
anywhere as a starting pitcher?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, the Giants just
signed a guy that I had an affinity for, Renteria,
right? We lost him. You develop a respect and a
relationship with players and sometimes it's free
agency that they move or sometimes it's a trade
because that's the business of baseball.
So, yeah, I have a strong personal
relationship and respect and affection for Rick
Ankiel, but this will be the last year of his contract,
so he goes out and hits 40 balls, he may not play
for us next year. There's that business. I mean, I'll
always feel the same way about him. I think what
you look at is whatever outfielder that you figure
you trade for the pitcher you get back, what that
does to your club, so you want to get better.
Q. Do you think how you guys view
Rick as a player then sort of colors the return
you want to get on him? You talk about -- you
guys talk about the player he could be, not the
player he has been, if that makes sense. Do
you think that colors what he'd have to get in
TONY LA RUSSA: I don't know how to
answer that. I mean, I think what he's done since
he's been a big league outfielder speaks for itself,
what he is, and what you project, just a little bit of
improvement. That's a very special package when
you talk to defense, extra base pop and hitting for
-- I think he'll hit for a higher and higher average.
Q. When you look at Rasmus, a year
ago it seemed like there were ways it wouldn't
be true, but he was either going to go to
Memphis and play or he was going to come to
St. Louis and play. With him having not a full
year but however many at-bats down there, is
that equation different? Could you envision
him as -- I don't want to put a number on it, but
is that equation different? Could he be not an everyday guy and be on your roster this year?
TONY LA RUSSA: That's a real good
question because he is a year older. Last year we
discussed this, he had no AAA experience, so now
he has some AAA experience, so that changes
things some. It doesn't change the fact that this
guy had a chance to be an impact, everyday
So the way I would answer that right now
is you always remember that, and for the good of
the organization on down the road, you don't want
to do anything that takes away from him making
his mark as soon as possible.
But you're also balancing -- we want to be
a contending ballclub next year, so if he helps us
contend and he's still not going to get 600 at-bats, I
think you consider it this year, as long as you feel
like you're getting him enough playing time.
I mean, this is me answering. I don't know
how Mo and ownership and our development
would feel about it. I also believe that if you have
the ability to bring along a young player or a young
pitcher at an appropriate pace that that's really
good for them.
What that means -- when you translate it, it
means if he's playing well and if he struggles you
can back him off, you don't have to keep playing
him or pitching a guy, and I think with our setup
we'd be able to do that. But it's going to come
down to does he get enough playing time, and if
there isn't enough playing time, AAA has got to
Q. Would you want him to be in a
situation like Skip was in a couple years ago
where he would come up and play if you
needed somebody, but if he wasn't playing all
the time you would ship him back to Memphis,
that he would be more of a transitional player?
TONY LA RUSSA: I mean, I would hope --
this guy, because he has a chance to be a very
special package, you would try to avoid that.
You'd avoid disrupting a guy, either send him to
AAA, send him to the big leagues and not do that
to him if you can help it.
Q. Do you look at the outfield kind of
like the second base situation from a
competitive standpoint? Is that a delicate
balance? In the event you guys don't make a
move, trading from that depth, how do you
handle that outfield situation? Seems like
you've got some talented players there.
TONY LA RUSSA: It's a real plus but
challenging situation. If you just take the six guys,
I think Chris is going to be back in there and he's
going to be really good, got Ankiel, got Schumaker,
got Ludwick, then you've got Mather and Rasmus.
That's deep. I mean, those guys are true extra
outfielders that you sit there and pinch-hit them.
Every one of those guys is a starter. That's a
major strength. I mean, it might get a little
uncomfortable at times, but it's better to have that
kind of depth, see what happens.
Q. What's your understanding where
Chris is and the work he's been doing?
TONY LA RUSSA: He's doing well. He's
excited, we're excited. He's on time at the
beginning of the year to jump right into the swing of
things and everything else.
Q. You don't expect him to be limited?
TONY LA RUSSA: No, he's feeling great.
Q. Regardless of how he feels, though,
are you comfortable basically going all in on a
guy like that, that he's going to be able to give
you 32 starts in a year, or do you think you
have to have some sort of safety net --
TONY LA RUSSA: 32 starts?
Q. I'm sorry, I'm asking about
TONY LA RUSSA: I was thinking 32 starts,
Q. With Carp, no matter how he feels,
and we were given an optimistic read last week,
how much can you bank on that? Y'all kind of
got burned that way last year.
TONY LA RUSSA: Did we get burned? I
Q. Counting on him and Mulder at
TONY LA RUSSA: Who do we pass on?
We couldn't have had guys. We got Lohse. I
mean, at some point, I think Carp will do everything
possible to get back. And so far everything is plus
and go forward.
But he is a pitcher, so we get to the first
year when he starts throwing, I think that's really
the next realistic test. It's nice that he's been
making improvement and passing what he's doing, but the throwing program is going to be the next
test. I just count on him to give you the best shot.
Half full, half empty. Half full is I expect him to be
back, but you can't work any guarantees in there.
Q. Dunc was pretty blunt saying I can't
count on the guy until I see him go out there
and do it.
TONY LA RUSSA: Right, until he starts
throwing. But what does that mean. Does that
mean we go out and sign -- who are we going to
sign? There's only so much money available.
Q. Do you have a viable, for lack of a
better description, No. 6 starter, already on that
roster, that you go with Carp as slow or not
ready out of the gate?
TONY LA RUSSA: You look at what Boggs
looks like in spring training. I think if we did
something with a right-handed reliever, I think
Dunc has spoken about McClellan.
Q. Do you view Thompson in that?
TONY LA RUSSA: You could think about
Brad that way.
Q. Could you characterize the team's
discussions to date so far here in Vegas in
terms of attempting to make some moves?
TONY LA RUSSA: John has been very
active, a lot of groundwork for what happens now
is things start moving along. So now it's just -- he's
got a good plan. He's just got to get some
cooperation from the other side, whether it's a
trade or free agent move.
Q. You have your outfield depth and
you're one of the teams looking for numerous
pitching. Would you be opposed to trading
some of the outfielders to acquire that
TONY LA RUSSA: I don't know that we'd
do plural, but I think we can -- we were thinking
plural when it came to somebody like Holliday. So
if a guy is really a true impact,
middle-of-the-lineup hitter. We talked about it here
a little bit ago. We'd think seriously about trading
an outfielder to obtain some pitching.
Q. Is there anything about your
situation that can be said this year that you
haven't said previously? Obviously you're
older than those times before and there seemed to be some deliberation you had to
make last year. Is there anything different
about going into this season than any other
one you've gone into?
TONY LA RUSSA: I feel so much the
same. I've said it but I really mean it. I don't feel
any different right now in almost every respect than
I did at the first of two years or the first of three
years or the second of -- you know what I mean?
It's all the year you're going into and it's all about
what you do that year. The only thing I am aware
is that the years are piling up and I'm not going to
manage forever. But that doesn't distract at all
from what has to happen to get our club ready. I
don't think about it beyond that.
Q. I think some folks maybe perceive
that there might be an extra factor here,
though. You obviously had a very close
working relationship with Walt when he was
here, and there seems to be some perception
that Tony is going to have two years to manage
this team under a new front office. To what
extent do you evaluate how that goes when you
make a decision going forward? Is that
something that's in play now that maybe wasn't
in play before?
TONY LA RUSSA: No, because we only
went through one year. Mo was part of Walt's
immediate staff, so we've worked well all year long.
I'm not going to get to the year and think, well, I
don't want to be a part of this organization. That's
going to be more when is it time to stop managing.
I don't even think about it because I'm ready for
Q. So lame duck is kind of a heavy
TONY LA RUSSA: Lame duck? Spry
chicken is how I feel, a chick. I feel like a
Q. Is there any cause, reason, priority
to have a left-handed starter? It's my
understanding that maybe there are some of
those guys at least in the picture for you guys.
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, pick the best five.
We've talked about pitching, whether it's right or
left, who's the best guy.
Q. Do you think you're good enough
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I think we're
going to have some guys with a year of experience
that will be a little bit better because they're pretty
good already. I think Khalil will respond.
Offensively we were competitive last year in a lot of
categories. We could do better converting, which I
think we have a chance to do with some
I think we'll go about the at-bats really well.
My other priority is pitching.
Q. Do you see a specific benefit given
that conversion thing to having a guy like
Khalil with some pop that presumably bats
somewhere down in your order, to have
another potentially RBI guy hitting wherever it
is, six, seven? Is that beyond his ability or is
there something specific about how he might
fit in your lineup?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I mean, the game
today, if you go 1-4 and your one hit is an
extra-base hit, it seems to have more significance
now than ever, and he has that ability.
One thing that we preach and preach and
preach and preach as an old-time Cardinal, you
play the scoreboard. I was just talking about it to
somebody. I don't care if you're Albert or Troy
Glaus or Khalil or whatever or Rick Ankiel, you've
got the runner at third and you get two strikes on
you, the winning play is to put the ball in play.
So we teach making some kind of
concession. You just can't swing once, twice,
three. So that's what we teach, and I don't see any
reason why -- I've talked to Bruce and Kevin about
it. I think Khalil or whoever in our club, I expect
you to play the game that way.
Q. Is it a fair question to wonder if
Rasmus were to be on your team, at least
initially, do you think it's possible a guy like
that could be a lead-off type of guy?
TONY LA RUSSA: I think he's a unique,
remarkable kind of talent from what I saw in spring
training. I saw he had a good strike zone, and
when he got the ball -- he's shown it. He got some
home runs, he runs really well. I probably would
prefer him at the top of the lineup.
Q. The way you've described your
lead-off guys in the past, he's a potential
impact guy, too, who could do damage quick,
and I just didn't know if you thought that was
out of the box?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, my guess is he
could probably do more damage after he's had a
couple, three years to get a little bit stronger. He's
a baby, a young guy, so he'll do better after he
gets stronger and gets some experience. His
talent will be in the first or second spot, or ninth, or
seventh, depending on who you hit.
Q. But keep him out of a production
TONY LA RUSSA: Yeah, if we didn't
have -- if we didn't have those guys, but we have
Glaus, got Dunc, Ankiel, Ludwick.
Q. (Question about Khalil Greene)?
TONY LA RUSSA: I don't know. He has
had some punch-outs. I just know he's got live
ability and I'm anxious to see how he fits in. Who
knows where you put him.
Q. If you have a shortstop who can hit
20 home runs as opposed to Cesar who is a
different type of player, does that change how
you do your batting order?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, as long as -- I just
don't like to put a label on one of our players,
because whether you're Duncan or Khalil Greene
or Ankiel or Ludwick, if you can hit 20 home runs,
you're going to be asked to play the game to just
put the ball in play or get the guy over to second
base or just tap the ball to the shortstop with a
runner on third.
So the fact that he has 20 home runs, it
just tells me he's got some pop. We want our
hitters, Khalil and all these guys, to play the game
according to the scoreboard. That's what we
I mean, I think one of the things that we've
done (knocking wood) really well is we've cut
strikeouts down over the years, and that's just a
matter of playing the game. That tells me we have
all spring to look at him and try to see how our
lineup is shaking out.
Q. So it's premature to ask whether --
TONY LA RUSSA: I think I'll pitch him
eight because it makes for a better offense for the
team. I'm going to pitch him eighth.
Q. Could you use Hoffman?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, we're trying to
sign Fuentes. I mean, I love and respect Trevor
Hoffman, but I don't know that that's the guy we've
talked a lot about. Mo could answer that better
than I could.
Q. Is there any particular reason?
TONY LA RUSSA: Yeah, because we
don't want a left-hander that pitches better.
Q. Maybe this is too specific of a
question to ask, but do you see it as Fuentes or
the young guys?
TONY LA RUSSA: If we don't get Fuentes
and we don't get somebody else? If we don't get
Fuentes then we don't get somebody else.
Q. Then you'd consider going to the
TONY LA RUSSA: No, we'll continue
searching. We've got a couple, three other ideas.
I just talked to Dunc today.
Q. (Question about Todd Wellemeyer)?
TONY LA RUSSA: When he was a reliever
he was impressive, and then when we looked at
him he started for them in the minor leagues. So
that gives us the indication we could use him as a
starter, and he likes to start. He's learning to pitch.
He can really let go, and now he's moving the ball
around and getting different movements to
different parts and places, pitching more than just
Q. Safe to say or assume if you were to
miss on Fuentes that the two or three options
that you discussed with Dunc are not internal
but outside options?
TONY LA RUSSA: Yeah. I mean, we
know what we've got internally, right? If we don't
do anything else, then we're going to go with what
we've got. Anything else, all the creativity, has to
Q. It was a few years ago at this time
that you said, well, Looper is a starter now. So
there's no outside the box thinking here?
TONY LA RUSSA: Yeah, there is.
Q. There is for this ninth inning?
TONY LA RUSSA: Sure, absolutely.
Q. So Hoffman wouldn't be one of the
options if you don't get Fuentes?
TONY LA RUSSA: I mean, we really
haven't talked about Trever that way. I don't want
to say something that hasn't been part of the
TONY LA RUSSA: Yeah, Carpenter, but
again, we don't want to factor Carpenter into the
discussions other than keeping our fingers
Q. But you're willing to go that far
outside the box and say maybe he's the answer
in the ninth inning?
TONY LA RUSSA: If he's available, could
be. I mean, I don't know how much he'll be able to
pitch. We just want him healthy and ready to do
something, and then we'll figure out something
else. Like I said, the conversations Dave and I
have had did not involve guys in our organization.
Q. So what do you think about the Hall
of Fame ballot?
TONY LA RUSSA: I'm glad you asked
that. Well, this did come up because there's a
writer back home who's doing a piece in
anticipation of Ricky, so I gave him my Ricky stuff.
And then Mark's name came up.
I thought about something that I have
never vocalized before, verbalized. This steroid
issue, right, that's a matter of integrity. That's one
way to describe it, right? Well, it occurred to me, I
know that I've never spoken much about it at all,
but this guy did something that screams integrity.
Who did I talk to about it? I talked about it to Mo
on Monday, Sunday -- Monday. How many guys
do we know that had a contract like he had? He
had a contract in his hand for $15 million over two
years, and he walked away from it because he
didn't feel like he could play to that level. That, to
me, there's a certain integrity for the sport, for
self-respect and everything.
Now, our guess, and people that I've
talked to, our guess is that a whole lot of guys, just
being normal, would be figured some way to either
talk to the organization, like let's get a buyout, give
me $5 million instead of 30, whatever it is, or go
ahead and play less than their best and collect a
check for two years. He walked away from two
years of $30 million, and I thought to myself when I
told this one writer, man, I think that speaks to the
public or the voters about his integrity. You've got to be a pretty solid character guy to not -- am I
reading that wrong?
Do you think that's a good
sign of character, that you would walk away from
$30 million if you didn't think you could play to that
level? How would you take that decision and not
make sense of it.
Q. I'm not sure that you're comparing
apples to apples.
TONY LA RUSSA: So how would you
describe a guy that walks away from $30 million?
Q. I'm agreeing with you that that's a
sign of character, not to have a debate that's
going to be transcribed here. I would agree
that that's a sign of integrity. But I think we all
do things that show integrity in one parallel
and make questionable moves on another
TONY LA RUSSA: I'm just saying that the
fact that he walked away from that money has
been an under-discussed, under-publicized -- I
know I have not discussed it, and I think that is a
hellacious sign of the type of person he is, and that
should translate into knowing that he's a special
guy. I just never talked about it. I thought I had
the chance so I'd mention it.
Q. So you'd consider it as an intangible
for his Hall of Fame.
TONY LA RUSSA: Yeah, he's got this
cloud over him.
Q. Character is an issue?
TONY LA RUSSA: So I think that showed
great character because there's not many guys
that I know that have said I'll just stumble along
and take those checks.
Q. Do you hope to have him in spring
training this year?
TONY LA RUSSA: I had a wonderful
dinner with him during the general manager
meetings, and there was another friend there, so
the three of us had a good discussion, and I
mentioned to him that we haven't -- and I haven't
pushed it. I need to follow up. So I don't know
what he's thinking.
Q. I just wondered, given he had some
things to say around the anniversary last year, I
just didn't know if he was maybe getting more
comfortable to put himself in that position?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, there's no doubt
because he was on his way last spring, and then
he had an issue. He was within a week of coming
to camp. But it's still the same. His two boys are
demanding a lot of his time, and he's having a
great time being around them.
Q. Give your Ricky address.
TONY LA RUSSA: Ricky, I said -- well, he
started with the A's in '79 was the first year I
started managing, so up until he retired, Ricky was
a part of almost every competition I was in. So the
ten years from '79 to '89 going against him and
then watching him with us for that four- or five-year
period, he was the most dangerous player of our
generation. That includes all the great sluggers
and Hall of Famers. He was the most dangerous.
And then I also added, because I think this
is important, I think there's a certain perception of
being a troublemaker and not a good teammate,
and there were times -- Ricky took care of himself,
and there were times when what was good for
Ricky went against what the manager or the
organization thought was good for the team, and
he and I had a couple issues about that, and that
got a lot of publicity.
But the point, he's probably one of the best
teammates of about any superstar you're going to
find. His teammates really enjoyed him. He wasn't
one of those guys that was arrogant and separated
himself. The guys all walked in the clubhouse and
Ricky was right in the middle of the dominos and
messing around. So he really was well liked by
teammates, and I don't think that part of him is
known publicly a lot. He was always a dynamic
figure, and his grammar sometimes got him in
trouble. But he was a much better teammate than
some of the guys who get publicity and are really
kind of phony about it.
That's one point. Ricky was overall a very
Q. He was probably the most -- I mean,
Canseco was a great player, Mark was a great
player, but Ricky may have been the most
dominant postseason player you had, right?
TONY LA RUSSA: He was dominant.
He'd take a one-run lead in the ninth, he was the
one guy you didn't want to face. He was really,
really good. He was a marked man. We all tried to
stop him, and he still succeeded. He still stole a
base, got on base, tiny little strike zone, throw it in there, he'd hit it, walk, steal second. Took care of
himself, played long into his career.
So I thought that character -- in my
opinion, that he was dangerous, fit his status.
Sometimes you have stats, but the other thing I
want to say, he's a much better teammate than the
public understands, and I bet you his teammates
would all stand up and say, you know, I had a lot of
fun with Ricky.
Q. Most of his stuff all happened
around contract talks.
TONY LA RUSSA: The most famous
quote, that they're going to pay me like Gallego,
I'm going to play like Gallego. Gallego is one of
the fans' favorites.
You're exactly right, contract was a big
problem for him. But then during the season, he
was just probably smart, he was laying an egg or
something, he'd take a series off. But then he'd
come back and -- he was amazing.
Q. All the sliding he did, it's amazing he
didn't tear up his legs.
TONY LA RUSSA: What a specimen. He
always said, I thought he was kidding but now I
know he wasn't, that ring, you wouldn't have that
without me. I don't know if that's true because we
had other great players and great pitchers, but he
certainly had a wonderful postseason.
Q. How many guys have played the
majority of their career for you to go in? Would
he be the first?
TONY LA RUSSA: How long did he play
with me? He was ten years against us, '89 through
Q. You only had him for --
TONY LA RUSSA: Yeah, because '93 we
traded him to Toronto.
END OF INTERVIEW
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