4/13 Lessons from Tony

Dale Sveum played for Tony La Russa in 1993 in Oakland and learned a lot from the former big league manager, who was to be celebrated Friday as part of the Cardinals’ Opening Day festivities in St. Louis. Sveum said La Russa, who retired after leading the Cardinals to the World Series championship last season, always put players in situations where he felt they would have success.

“He always played the big boys against the best pitchers,” Sveum said Friday. “But the thing about Tony was he gave the bench players an opportunity and always put them in situations where they were going to succeed, meaning me, because I was on the bench. You feel good about yourself except one day when I had to face Randy Johnson and he struck out 17 that day.”

In 1993, Sveum played 30 games for the Athletics, and played saw playing time at all four infield positions as well as making one start in left.

“The biggest thing is he wasn’t afraid to play his role players,” Sveum said. “He put me in left field one day and I had never played left field in my life. He said, ‘Yeah, I just want to get your bat in there and see what happens.'”

How did Sveum do?

“I did OK,” he said. “I didn’t get exposed too much.”

— Carrie Muskat

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