Rasmus' trade request report causes a stir

Rasmus' trade request report causes a stir

ST. LOUIS -- Beating the Reds was the easy part for Colby Rasmus.

The second-year outfielder faced two separate crowds of reporters on Sunday, one before the Cardinals' 4-2 win against Cincinnati and one after. In between, he was called out by a superstar teammate and more privately approached by at least one member of the Cardinals' organization regarding a reported trade request and his morning comments about it.

On Sunday morning, Rasmus did not confirm or deny a St. Louis Post-Dispatch report that he requested a trade earlier this year. Shortly before the Cardinals boarded a bus to fly to Milwaukee, though, he denied that he had approached general manager John Mozeliak about the possibility of being dealt.

"No sir," Rasmus said. "Me and 'Mo' are tight. We get along well, ever since I've been here. I never did that. I don't know where that's coming from. I just want to play baseball and have fun."

A source confirmed to MLB.com on Sunday that the report was in fact accurate. However, after Rasmus made ambiguous comments in the morning to a smaller group of reporters regarding his status and future in the organization, he took the opportunity in the afternoon to express his fondness for the club and the city.

"I really don't have much displeasure," he said. "We're going through a little scuffle, a lot of pressure going on. But as far as the organization, I love the organization. I have ever since I've been here. Some things might have gotten misinterpreted. I haven't handled the pressure well at times and said some things that I shouldn't. But I love being here, love the fans. So moving forward, I'm just trying to play hard and I'm happy we won today."

Asked whether he currently wants to be traded, Rasmus flatly said, "No sir. I do not."

He also disputed any notion that he has trouble with manager Tony La Russa.

"Me and Tony are good," he said. "Everything is good. We've had our times, but it's a tough game out there. A lot of pressure involved. Some things happen in the heat of the moment, but everything is fine. We've got a good relationship going on right now."

Earlier, though, Rasmus acknowledged that he finds himself in a complicated situation. At that time, Rasmus declined even to say whether he's happy playing in St. Louis or whether he hopes to be back with the Cardinals for 2011, though he also emphasized that he wasn't asking out.

"I'm not going to say either way," Rasmus said when he was asked about his desire to be back next year. "I'm just going to come in and play hard every day."

Even so, some of Rasmus' comments did not sit well with superstar Albert Pujols. The three-time Most Valuable Player expressed irritation that Rasmus made his qualms public.

"I've got 10 years in the big leagues and that's something that you're never going to hear me say," Pujols said. "Because that's disrespecting these guys around here. If I have a problem with the organization or the way the organization is not handling something, I go right to the owners and the GM and say, 'Listen, we need to fix this.' But you can't disrespect the players."

Pujols did say that when he initially spoke to Yahoo! Sports regarding Rasmus, for a story that appeared during Sunday's game, he thought the trade request had been made this weekend.

"For a young kid to come up and say that, that he wants to be somewhere else, I don't know why," Pujols said. "I guess he said it two months ago. Two months ago we were in first place. Who doesn't want to be on a team that's in first place, battling for a spot in the playoffs? He's young, but he needs to understand, you need to approach that a different way."

Rasmus has made little secret that his adjustment to the Major Leagues in 2009 was a difficult one. As a heavily hyped, very young player on a veteran team, he sometimes had difficulty fitting in with his teammates. Some reports have suggested, meanwhile, that La Russa and Rasmus have a strained relationship, though both men have played down that line of conversation.

La Russa in fact went out of his way to douse that thought in his postgame media session Sunday.

"If you don't trust me or don't believe me, then don't trust me or don't believe me," La Russa said. "I have no problem with Colby. Colby has had some issues about how happy he is here, and I think it's just a young guy that's getting a lot of attention. If he hangs around here long enough, he'll appreciate what it means to be a Cardinal."

Earlier in the day, La Russa had argued that Rasmus is very close to being an everyday player, and that he believes criticism about how often he plays the youngster is misguided. La Russa had previously noted that relative to Rasmus, he feels that rookie Jon Jay has an unusually advanced understanding of the game, while Rasmus is still developing that sense.

"[Rasmus has] been virtually an everyday player," La Russa said. "He hasn't been sat because he's not playing the game correctly. What it's saying ... actually it came about with [my comment about] Jon Jay. Jon Jay has a lot of savvy about his game. The same is true for Colby as it would be for [Allen] Craig, for Brendan Ryan when he first got here, Tyler Greene. You learn how to play the game -- when to be aggressive on the bases. You learn what it is to take at-bats according to the scoreboard. That's all it was. It was nothing personally critical of Colby, which is how it was interpreted. He plays young. He's learning. Jay has learned."

Rasmus said before and after the game that he had no complaints about his playing time.

"I've had bad times, bad months," Rasmus said. "I don't get upset when I'm not in the lineup. [La Russa's] the man. He's got the pen. It's up to him."

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.