La Russa returning; McGwire joining him

La Russa returning; McGwire joining him

ST. LOUIS -- Continuing a winning formula, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa will return for a 15th season at the helm of the reigning National League Central champions.

La Russa was reintroduced at a news conference at Busch Stadium on Monday, where it was announced that he has agreed to a one-year contract for 2010.

However, La Russa may not have been the biggest story at his own news conference. As the the manager spoke about his decision, he confirmed that Mark McGwire will replace Hal McRae as Cardinals hitting coach.

That will be the only change to La Russa's staff, as all of the other coaches -- including pitching coach Dave Duncan -- will return.

"I don't know how many years I have left to manage, and I wanted to take this opportunity to invite a guy who I think has a very special talent," La Russa said of McGwire, who did not attend the news conference.

McRae served five seasons as the St. Louis batting instructor, but came under fire late in 2009 as a lineup bolstered by trades remained quiet down the stretch and in the playoffs. The Cardinals were held to six runs in a three-game Division Series sweep at the hands of the Dodgers.

La Russa, who turned 65 on Oct. 4, has presided over one of the most successful eras in the history of the franchise. In his 14 seasons managing the Cardinals, the team has gone to the postseason eight times, including seven via outright division championships. La Russa's Cardinals have won two National League pennants and were the World Series champions in 2006.

Likely Hall of Fame-bound when his career ends, La Russa has a 2,552-2,217 record in 31 seasons as a big league manager, ranking third among the all-time leaders in wins. He recently passed John McGraw for second place on the all-time games-managed list. La Russa is one of two managers to win World Series titles in both leagues -- the other is Sparky Anderson -- and has a 1,232-1,034 record in St. Louis.

McGwire, 46, retired with 583 home runs, including a then-record 70 as a member of the Cardinals in 1998. He played for La Russa for nearly his entire Major League career, including his final 4 1/2 seasons with St. Louis. He has worked with current and former Cardinals including Skip Schumaker, Matt Holliday and Chris Duncan during recent offseasons.

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