La Russa could tie for 2nd-longest tenure with Cards

Updated: January 8, 2005, 3:59 PM ET
Associated Press

ST. LOUIS -- Tony La Russa agreed to a three-year contract extension with the St. Louis Cardinals after taking them to their first World Series in 17 seasons.

He also said Saturday that the Cardinals are close to a new contract for general manager Walt Jocketty.

La Russa, 60, led the Cardinals to 105 victories and the National League championship last season. St. Louis has been to the playoffs five times in his nine years with the club.

The new contract will keep him in place through 2007, which would tie La Russa with Red Schoendienst for the second-longest tenure as the Cardinals' manager.

"I never look too far ahead, but that gets my attention," La Russa said. "If it works out -- 12 years, I would have never thought that."

After the Cardinals' third-place finish in the NL Central in 2003, La Russa wasn't so certain about his future with the team. Last year he wondered aloud whether he'd still be managing when the team's new stadium opens in 2006.

La Russa has never moved from northern California, and for a time in St. Louis he lived in the shadow of Whitey Herzog. He has felt more accepted in recent seasons, and winning is a big reason.

"It all has to do with the season you're playing," La Russa said. "It's a real fickle thing. So you should never feel too comfortable."

La Russa likes the moves the Cardinals have made since losing to the Boston Red Sox in the World Series, notably the trade for 17-game winner Mark Mulder and the signings of infielders David Eckstein and Mark Grudzielanek.

"We've really worked hard, and we've been creative," La Russa said. "The front office and ownership have done their part to put a good team on the field."

The Cardinals might not be done yet, either. La Russa said the Cardinals continue to work on a contract with free agent second baseman Roberto Alomar. La Russa said Alomar would compete for a starting job if he signs.

"I know we've been talking," La Russa said. "I think he's one of the smartest players I've ever competed against."


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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