La Russa still undecided, but hints at return

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Tony La Russa remains undecided about returning as Cardinals manager next season, but hinted yesterday that he’s leaning toward coming back and added that “it won’t be long” before he makes a decision:

I think I know where things lead but I want to be sure. I want to be honest. I want it to be genuine. … You’re not a player. This isn’t free agency where you can wait until the end of the World Series to decide.



You’re a member of your organization’s staff. You’re a complementary part of the organization. I’m encouraged and feel good about the conversations I’ve had with some of the players. All that’s left is to check the fire in your gut. That shouldn’t take long.

If the 65-year-old manager returns he’ll likely bring longtime pitching coach Dave Duncan back with him, so general manager John Mozeliak is being patient:

I understand he wanted some time to take a step back. He has a process he’s going through. We understand that. We speak on a fairly regular basis, and it’s about the future. That leads me to think optimistically about where things are headed. I’m not going to put a line in the sand about this. But we did talk about this not getting too far away. Sooner is better than later. Tony knows that as well as anyone.

La Russa and the Cardinals seem sort of blindsided by their first-round playoff sweep at the hands of the Dodgers, but losing three straight games to another good team is hardly the end of the world and he’s guided St. Louis to the postseason in seven of the past 10 years. He’ll be back and the Cardinals will be strong contenders again in 2010, although Mozeliak will have a very busy offseason in the meantime.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.