La Russa suggests he'd like to return

La Russa suggests he'd like to return

ST. LOUIS -- While Tony La Russa waits to learn the results of the Cardinals' general manager search, the longtime St. Louis skipper sounds very much like a man who'd like to return for a 13th season wearing the "birds on the bat."

La Russa, speaking by cell phone from the headquarters of his Animal Rescue Foundation in California, said last week that he hopes to have some resolution on his situation "sooner rather than later." But he gave an indication that he'd like for that resolution to come in the form of another tour of duty with the Redbirds.

"I've invested 12 years there, and you know the formula," La Russa said, referring to his long-standing checklist of approval from ownership, players and fans. "I got a real good response from the players and ownership, so that part of it is in good shape. The player thing has been answered. The front office still wants me and ownership still wants me."

La Russa indicated late in the 2007 season that some of his relationships with players might have been strained to a dangerous degree by the difficult season. But during the season's final weekend, he said those concerns had been allayed.

Though La Russa's name has been mentioned in conjunction with several managerial openings he said he has not been contacted by any club other than St. Louis at this point. He declined to speculate on whether he would listen to offers from other clubs while his status with the Cardinals remains in limbo. His last contract, a three-year deal signed in 2005, expired at the end of the season.

In a St. Louis Post-Dispatch report on Saturday, La Russa said has not delayed his decision to return to the Cards in order to gauge possible interest from the Yankees, who parted ways with longtime manager Joe Torre on Thursday.

"I'm talking to [team chairman] Bill [DeWitt Jr.] because that's where I want to be," La Russa said. "Frankly, I'm offended the question is even being asked."

The club has not given a time frame for its general manager search in the wake of Walt Jocketty's dismissal. La Russa will wait to see who his boss would be in St. Louis, but he doesn't intend to wait all winter.

"I know they're working the general manager process," he said. "I'm anxious to see where that goes.

"I don't think you can sit here forever. ... The best case is for them to make a smart decision, but you can't push that decision either. But the best case is for them to hire the guy they think is right, and then consider the next spot, which is the manager. I can't stay out here forever because it's not productive for the organization or for me."

But La Russa also told the paper he may sign before a replacement is found for Jocketty because of concerns entering free agency.

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