La Russa impressed by Cards' hot start

La Russa impressed by Cards' hot start

CINCINNATI -- After spending Thursday at the MLB Network studios to participate in First-Year Player Draft festivities and then jetting to Cincinnati to speak at an area function on Friday, former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa was in Chicago on Saturday as the White Sox recognized the 30th anniversary of their 1983 division championship.

But amid his hectic travel schedule and Major League Baseball obligations, La Russa said that he has kept his eye on the Cardinals, a team he managed from 1996-2011. It is the organization's storied tradition, La Russa told reporters in Chicago on Saturday, that he believes is the backbone of the team's ongoing success.

"I understood when I first got there, and this is the same thing that's benefiting [manager] Mike [Matheny] -- there's almost a 100-year history there," La Russa said. "And when you go there, you have a responsibility to try to maintain or add to. And it's a very powerful force. The fans have positive expectations, and then you have Hall of Famers walking around all the time. And they're really encouraging. They want you and the team to do well. Now, Mike has got that."

That '83 division title was the only one the White Sox won under La Russa, who was the team's manager from 1979-86. When he got word that the White Sox wanted to celebrate that division title during the 2013 season, La Russa suggested the team choose this weekend when the A's were in town.

After managing in Chicago, La Russa went on to manage Oakland for 10 seasons. He then ended his managerial career in St. Louis, helping lead the organization to a pair of World Series championships and seven division titles. The Cardinals have carried over that run of success since he left, too. On Friday, the Cardinals became the Majors' first team to reach the 40-win mark.

"I watched them play half a game last night in Cincinnati, and they get at it," La Russa said. "They really compete every day with a lot of urgency, and the guys on the staff like Mike. ... It's a strong mentoring system, the veterans teach the young guys, they do it throughout the system, great development. It's a very, very healthy organization and I was honored to be a part of it."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.