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La Russa formally invited back for next year

La Russa formally invited back for next year

ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals manager Tony La Russa has formally been invited to return for the 2011 season, and he and the club both believe that La Russa will make a decision about his status before the end of next week.

La Russa spoke with reporters between meetings at Busch Stadium on Monday, and acknowledged that he still has a good bit of thinking to do on the topic. But one part of the equation has been cleared up. In an afternoon meeting with general manager John Mozeliak and the team's principal owner, Bill DeWitt Jr., La Russa was invited back.

"We certainly talked about next year and our interest to have him return," Mozeliak said. "It was a very productive meeting [about a matter] that we hope to have resolved within 7-10 days."

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La Russa, who has spent 15 years in St. Louis, met with his coaching staff in the morning and his bosses in the afternoon. He will play in former player Mike Matheny's charity golf tournament on Tuesday, and once he's finished packing, he'll drive home to the East Bay area of California.

During that time, he'll think about whether he wants to manage the Cardinals for a 16th season. La Russa said that it's very difficult to envision managing another club in 2011, in large part because at this point in his career, he does not commit for more than one year at a time. He did leave open the possibility of a non-managing job with a Major League team next season if he's not the skipper in St. Louis.

"As far as managing, what I've said is it's hard to think of another place," La Russa said. "Because if you're going year to year, what situation can you find that's fair? But I think there is an issue. Fifteen years is a long time for one guy in one place. And as great as this place is, at some time, it's going to be good when the new guy comes in. I think it will refresh the whole situation."

La Russa certainly didn't give any hints as to which way he is leaning. Likewise, Mozeliak declined to indicate whether he had any inclination about what La Russa will decide.

Either way, though, it should be quick. Last season, La Russa was introduced as the 2010 manager, on a one-year contract, shortly before the World Series. It does not appear that the process will be so drawn out this time around.

"'Mo' and I have talked," La Russa said. "They either go forward with me or without me, and there are a lot of important decisions there. I would say hopefully by next week."

As has been the case in recent weeks, La Russa again did not give any indication as to the fate of his coaching staff if he should return. He did say, however, that all of his coaches want to coach again in 2011, most notably pitching coach Dave Duncan.

"Dunc wants to coach," La Russa said. "He clearly wants to coach."

The only uncertainty in that regard, according to La Russa, rests with hitting coach Mark McGwire. The manager said that McGwire, a first-time coach in 2010, will have to consult with his family before deciding whether he wants to go through the eight-month grind once again.

And in the end, that's the same decision La Russa faces. It's a matter of whether he wants to commit to another lengthy campaign. To hear him talk on Monday, it was not at all obvious what he will decide.

"At some point, people just get tired of you," he said. "I wouldn't say tired, but they need somebody fresh. And there's no doubt that soon -- I think media, fans, somebody else that's new in there -- you get to check that person out. And I think that's interesting. There's no secrets with me, I don't think, anymore.

"Most of you [reporters] know how I'm going to answer the questions. Most of the fans, we already know each other. I think there's some freshness that's really good, and you consider that some. And then last, if everything is falling into place, then you check yourself. But you don't get to yourself unless you have to."

That last matter has arrived. The club wants La Russa back. Several players expressed their hope that the manager will return. Now it's a matter of what he wants.

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.

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