One of the staples of the Winter Meetings is a half-hour, informal gathering with 29 of baseball’s 30 managers (Dodgers manager Joe Torre never attends). It’s usually bland and lacking in anything controversial, but that wasn’t the case in Tony La Russa’s session today.
La Russa lambasted third baseman Scott Rolen, with whom he’s feuded for more than a year. Rolen remains on the trading block, and he’ll have to stay there; can’t imagine he can return after these comments.
Q: If the situation is serious enough that would like you to explore it, what can you or do you do to remedy that?
La Russa: Well, you know, I’ve had a long career, and I can’t remember ever being the combination of mystified and concerned that I am about this situation. Because speaking for any level of the organization, he has received first-class consideration, respect, gratuities. … I think he needs to understand that our Cardinals have given him a lot since he’s gotten there. He’s been given a contract; he’s been given a couple of World Series, he’s been given a World Series championship, been a part of it, and he’s given back some. But he needs to give back more. And so, we need him.
Q: Based on what you’re saying, why would the club just not say, you’re under contract, we have an obligation to you, you have an obligation to us; this is the way it’s going to be. … Why accomodate him?
La Russa: You said it perfectly. Speaking for me, and I think that I haven’t heard anybody say this differently, there’s absolutely no intention to accomodate Scott. I mean, that’s not how you run an organization. The idea is to accommodate the St. Louis Cardinals, our team. Our responsibility [is] to our players and to the competition. So no, I don’t want to accomodate Scott.
Q: Do you think barring a trade, your next conversation with him is spring training?
A: You know, I’ve tried to converse. … I told somebody the other day, I can make a list of 50 respect points that this man has been given by our organization. It’s time for him to give back. … He’s got a contract to play, and we need him to play. And he’s going to be treated very honestly. If he plays hard, and plays as well as he can, he plays. And if he doesn’t, he can sit. If he doesn’t like it, he can quit.