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La Russa Plans to be at Busch Stadium for Pujols' Return This Season

La Russa says he wants to make sure fans know the business of baseball, "don't blame Albert, don't blame the DeWitt's or the Cardinals."

January 23, 2019 - 2:57 pm

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - It's always a treat to have Hall of Famer and former St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa on the KMOX airwaves. He ran threw a variety of topics with our sports director Tom Ackerman, which you can listen to in full here: 

And here are just a few of the more substantial comments we heard from La Russa: 

What has impressed him about Cardinals manager Mike Shildt

"What we noticed from the very first day is that he has a thirst for knowledge. Which I think is at the foundation of anything you do, if you really want to learn about it you keep asking questions. And he impressed the first day he showed up at major league camp, he was pulling Dave McKay aside to ask him about baserunning and outfield play, and Jose Oquendo and Joe Pettini​, talking to (Dave Duncan), talking to hitting coaches." 

Although La Russa isn't around everyday to see Shildt work, he knows from working previous spring training with the current Cards manager what makes his successful. Besides that thirst for knowledge, he says Shildt has a way of "being honest that really captures the players' attention." La Russa says it's more important now than ever to connect with players and show you care about them, which Shildt is very successful in doing.

Related: Not That Yadi Needed Another Reason to Win, But He's Got a Few More Now​

Knows what Paul Goldschmidt brings from first-hand experience

"Character wise and I mean from a personal side, he is impeccable." 

La Russa says when he first went to the Arizona Diamondback organization in 2014, after a season in which Goldschimdt led the NL in home runs, RBI, slugging percentage and a number of offensive categories. He says there will be nothing, on or off the field, that St. Louis will want to change about Goldschmidt. 

"I think it's important to just let Paul be himself," La Russa says. 

And La Russa says the best player comparison he can come up with with Albert Pujols. Speaking of Pujols...

La Russa plans to be in St. Louis for Pujols' return

"I'm sure the Red Sox will give me the day off, I plan to be here for that first game because I want to be up there giving him that standing ovation for as long as it lasts." 

He's coming on June 21-23. The three-time MVP as a Cardinals first baseman will be back to play at Busch Stadium for the first time since he signed a free agent deal with the Angles in 2012. And it sounds like La Russa will be there too. 

La Russa says he never misses a chance to come back to St. Louis to show Cards fans how much he appreciates them. So he'll want to do the same to show Pujols his appreciation as well.

Winning the 2018 World Series with Boston

"I think the ring that I get is going to have a couple of pom-poms on it because basically what I did was be a cheerleader."

Related: Tony La Russa Leaves Cardinals World Series Ring in Joe Kelly's Glove

La Russa joined the Red Sox before the start of the 2018 season in the role of vice president. He says the team had a perfect mix of veteran leadership and young, selfless players throughout the roster. 

Very disappointed in reaction to Harold Baines Hall of Fame-worthy career

"It really is upsetting. It's not just that you disagree, but there's been some really harsh, insulting kinds of things that's not appropriate to begin with."

One specific stat he pointed out, is that Baines has 10 or more home runs in 20 seasons. The only guys with more 10-plus HR seasons are Hank Aaron, Carl Yastrzemski and Stan Musial, and then there's eight guys tied with Baines – who are all in the Hall of Fame.

La Russa says he actually wrote a column that will be sent to baseball writers around the country, because "the greatness of Harold is much underrated." 

"The fair-minded fans is going to be impressed with what I put out there and I'm sure they're going to get a chance to read it," La Russa says.