ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals manager Tony La Russa is annoyed that second baseman Adam Kennedy skipped the team's annual Winter Warmup fan fest.
"I'm disappointed he's not here," La Russa said. "This is a statement we make to our fans: 'Thanks for coming out,' and he's not here."
La Russa said Kennedy owed it to the team, especially after the manager stuck with Kennedy for so long despite his struggles on offense. Kennedy, who signed a three-year deal with St. Louis before last season, batted .219 with three home runs and 18 RBIs in 87 games before undergoing season-ending arthroscopic knee surgery in August.
Kennedy, a former first-round draft pick of the Cardinals, was the lone newcomer to the lineup last season, his second stint with the team.
"In the first three months of the season, his playing time was extensive when he really wasn't productive," La Russa said. "I really gave him the benefit of the doubt a lot, to the detriment of a guy like Aaron Miles."
La Russa said even if Miles had a big day in a spot start, he'd go right back to Kennedy. The manager said that won't be the case this year.
"This year, I don't think we have that margin," La Russa said. "Adam is a key guy in that mix so I expect him to return to his winning-player form.
"But he needs to make sure he dots all the i's," he said.
Missing the three-day Warmup that ended on Monday, La Russa said, was a mistake. La Russa said he didn't know Kennedy wasn't going to attend before he saw the schedule for the event and then said he left a phone message with Kennedy saying, "You've got to get here."
"I'm not ticked, I'm disappointed because this is a team thing," La Russa said. "He's made a mistake by not being here.
"My point is, he doesn't get a chance to make a lot of mistakes. Nobody does," he said.
La Russa was also unhappy with utilityman Scott Spiezio, who showed up late for his autograph signing session on Monday.
"That's one dot off his resume," La Russa said. "I don't care what the excuse was, that's not a good way to get started."