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.

Bryce Harper to Little League players: “No participation trophies, first place only”

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Nationals’ star outfielder Bryce Harper had some words of advice for a local Little League team on Saturday, telling a crowd of young players and their parents that winning matters far more than any participation trophies they might receive for their efforts on the field.

“As much as they might tell you, ‘Oh, it’s okay, you guys lost…’ No, Johnny, no,” Harper explained. “No participation trophies, okay? First place only. Come on.”

The panic over participation trophy culture has swelled over the last few years as studies continue to suggest that children are happier when they’re praised for their accomplishments, rather than rewarded for simply trying their best. The general idea is that kids aren’t motivated to succeed when they know they’ll receive a ribbon or medal celebrating their efforts at the end of the day — regardless of whether they win or lose. (Granted, it stands to reason that every kid can feel the difference between winning a championship trophy and receiving a participation ribbon.) Some have taken the idea to an extreme, claiming that when a child receives too many accolades for mediocre or poor performances, it can warp the way they view the world by generating a sense of undeserved entitlement.

Harper kept his tone light during the Q&A session, however, drawing cheers and applause from the majority of parents and a few of the kids. The 2015 NL MVP has routinely taken his own advice over the years, earning Rookie of the Year honors, four All-Star nominations and a Silver Slugger award since he broke into the major leagues in 2012. Next on his list? A World Series championship.

Indians to move Danny Salazar to the bullpen

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MLB.com’s William Kosileski reports that Indians starter Danny Salazar is being moved to the bullpen and will be available as soon as Wednesday or Thursday. The Indians will go on a five-game road strip starting on June 2, and manager Terry Francona said that Salazar could get a start during that trip.

Salazar, 27, has struggled to a 5.50 ERA over his first 10 starts this season. While none of those starts were absolute disasters, he failed to finish the sixth inning in seven of those 10 starts. It’s a far cry from his performance over the last two seasons, when he finished with a 3.45 ERA and 3.87 ERA.

Salazar’s walk rate is up to a career-high 11.9 percent, per FanGraphs, and he’s allowing many more line drives at the expense of ground balls. Compared to 2016, his line drive rate is up 8.9 percent and his ground ball rate is down 10.4 percent. All of that could explain Salazar’s struggles to some extent.