Results tagged ‘ Tony La Russa ’

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

10/31 So long, Tony

Tony La Russa announced his retirement Monday, and Cubs-Cardinals series won’t be the same without him.

“Enough’s enough” La Russa said. “It’s time to do something different.”

Remember the La Russa-Dusty Baker fracas at Wrigley Field in September 2003? On Sept. 4, 2003, Baker, then the Cubs manager, and La Russa met for nearly six minutes behind the batting cage. In the end, they shook hands. They were trying to settle differences that had been on display the day before.

“We explained to each other about different things, different things that might have upset him, upset me, different things that might have hurt his feelings or different things that might have hurt mine,” Baker said at the time. “That’s baseball, and that’s how it goes sometimes.”

Tensions snapped in the third inning on Sept. 3 after Cubs pitcher Matt Clement was hit by a pitch and both benches were issued a warning. Cardinals pitcher Dan Haren had been hit by a pitch the inning before. The two managers shouted at each other from their respective dugouts, and La Russa promised after the game he wanted to talk to Baker before talking to the media.

So, after their session behind the cage, did they reach an accord?

“Relatively so,” Baker said.

Did they agree to disagree?

“He has an opinion and I have an opinion on things — what was right, what was wrong, what was enough,” Baker said of La Russa. “It’s a big series, and there’s a lot of emotions. I’m not proud of myself when I display that kind of action. I don’t really like that person when he comes out, and he rarely comes out unless he’s provoked to come out. When he comes out, then he’s got to stay out.”

The two managers did have an altercation in the 2002 playoffs when Baker, then the Giants manager, accused the Cardinals of throwing at Kenny Lofton.

“Me and Tony were teammates,” Baker said. “He was my last manager. He’s the guy who gave me my first advice when I started managing. There wasn’t any tension. Sometimes there’s tension between myself and my brother. I still love my brother.”

In the Sept. 2, 2003, game, Cardinals pitcher Matt Morris was knocked down three times.

“I took offense to the unwritten threat [by La Russa]. That’s what I took offense to,” Baker said. “If you’re going to do it, just do it.

“We’re just playing hardball,” Baker said. “Then, there’s the war of words with [Kerry Wood] being a head hunter, [Mark] Prior being a head hunger, ‘Dusty Baker better do something about it.’ I think each manager should take care of their own club. You take care of yours, I’ll take care of mine.”

* La Russa and Lou Piniella grew up in Tampa, Fla., and played against each other as kids. Piniella, who is one year older, did top his friend in the 1990 World Series when his “Nasty Boys” Reds swept La Russa’s A’s. The two were teammates in 1961 hen they traveled to California to play in the Colt League World Series.

During the 2006 Winter Meetings, after Piniella had taken over the Cubs, the two talked.

“Tony and I, we had a nice conversation ’til about 3 in the morning, and we vowed that we would remain friends, that we would leave our competition on the field, and that would be the end of it,” Piniella said. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for Tony. I really do. And I think we are both at times in our careers where we realize that, hey, we are going to go out there and try to beat each other every day, but when it’s over, just leave it there, go back and compete the next day.”

Ah, memories.

— Carrie Muskat 

8/12 No La Russa vs Cubs

Lou Piniella will be back on Friday when the Cubs open a three-game series against the Cardinals in St. Louis but Tony La Russa will not be in the dugout for the first two games. Major League Baseball disciplinarian Bob Watson suspended La Russa and Reds manager Dusty Baker two games for their part in the brawl Tuesday in Cincinnati. The only other player suspended was Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto, who was given a seven-game suspension. St. Louis’ Chris Carpenter and Yadier Molina were fined as was the Reds’ Brandon Phillips and Russ Springer.

— Carrie Muskat

8/12 Hendry: "We haven't played like I thought we would"

The Cubs head into Wednesday’s game having lost five of their last six games, and three games behind the Cardinals in the National League Central. Lou Piniella has come under some criticism.

“We’re just going through a tough time,” Cubs GM Jim Hendry said. “A few weeks ago coming out of the break, everybody was applauding him for getting it turned around in the second half. We lost a lot of games when we haven’t knocked in runs with guys in scoring position. We had a couple where we just got kicked, and rightfully so.

“I think you see the same Lou,” Hendry said. “When you get beat and expectations aren’t being met, whether it’s the media or radio or anywhere else, you’re going to get your share of criticism. We all go through it when we’re not doing well.”

Hendry said the Cardinals somehow find a way. 

“As long as they’ve got Tony [La Russa] managing and the guy [Albert Pujols] at first playing, they’re going to have something to say about the race,” Hendry said. “They’ve done some nice additions, too. Obviously their pitching has once again exceeded expectations, a credit to Dave Duncan.

“I thought it would be a three or four-team race. We just haven’t played like I thought we would,” he said. “The injuries are a part of it, but certainly not what I would consider a giant excuse not to be doing somewhat better. Hopefully, we’ll finish the last seven weeks strong and get in.”

* Hendry said the Cubs have made claims on players placed on the waiver wire. Other teams have claimed those players ahead of the Cubs, and some weren’t traded.

“Hopefully, we’ll survive the injuries,” Hendry said.

Ted Lilly (shoulder) was making a rehab start Wednesday night for Class A Peoria and Carlos Zambrano (back) was not expected to miss more than 15 days. Reed Johnson (fractured foot) has not healed as quickly as they anticipated.

— Carrie Muskat


Popularity contest

Apparently, neither Chicago baseball manager is very popular with players. In a survey of 380 Major League players, 26 percent said they did not want to play for Lou Piniella and 21 percent said they did not want to play for Ozzie Guillen. The results will be published in this week’s Sports Illustrated. Tony La Russa was third among least favorite managers, as 10 percent said no to the Cardinals skipper, while the Dodgers’ Joe Torre and Indians’ Eric Wedge were tied for fourth, each getting 4 percent of the vote. Note that players were not allowed to vote for their own manager.

They are fickle. In last week’s SI poll, Torre finished second when players were asked which manager they most wanted to play for.

— Carrie Muskat