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La Russa will return in 2007

La Russa will return in 2007

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ST. LOUIS -- Speculation turned into rumor turned into report on Friday night, but Cardinals manager Tony La Russa insists that whatever you call it, it's false. On Saturday afternoon at Busch Stadium, La Russa dismissed any suggestion that he would walk away from the job now that his team has won the World Series.

"I don't know where it came from," he said. "I'm not tired. I'm ready for Spring Training, so I'm not tired."

As players cleaned out their lockers and well-wishers dropped by his office, La Russa chatted with reporters about the season gone by as well as the one to come. After 11 seasons at the helm of the Redbirds, La Russa has pulled within 64 victories of Red Schoendienst's franchise wins record.

Standing at 977, La Russa does not relish the thought of passing Schoendienst's mark of 1,041.

"If there was a way to fix it, Red should be the No. 1 guy," he said. "He's the franchise. The answer is to manage the year and only win 50 games."

The last part was a joke, but La Russa's admiration for Schoendienst surely is not.

It was a momentous year for La Russa as well as his team. He became the second manager in history to win a World Series title in each league, joining friend and mentor Sparky Anderson.

And things will get even better on Sunday. As he fielded phone calls, La Russa related one element of his team's title that thrills him as much as anything. A noted animal lover, he will ride in the carriage pulled by the Budweiser Clydesdales at the Cardinals' parade on Sunday.

Typically known for his fierce intensity, La Russa was calm and contemplative on Saturday.

"The best part is right now," he said. "Literally every hour that passes, it makes more of an impact on you. ... It's beyond description. It gets better every hour."

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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