Tony La Russa feeling better, nearing return to Cardinals

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Despite battling a case of shingles, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa made his regular weekly appearance Sunday on KMOX radio and gave an update on his status. B.J. Rains of FOX Sports Midwest has the goods.

“We’re going to get together with (general manager) John Mozeliak and our team doctors and trainers tomorrow and figure out the smartest thing to do,” La Russa said Sunday. “I’ll be patient one more day and see what that discussion goes like. It’s been hard because you take responsibility for your position and being there but the only thing that’s really helped is I know the quality of our staff. There wasn’t anything that happened that I could have done anything better with.”

La Russa missed his sixth consecutive game Sunday afternoon in Cincinnati, but he’s been calling in daily lineups to acting manager Joe Pettini and staying plenty active with the day-to-day operations of the club.

The Cards open a two-game series against the Phillies on Monday in St. Louis and then host the Astros for a two-game set Wednesday and Thursday. It seems likely that La Russa will return during that four-game span.

Dominic Smith likely to start the season at Triple-A

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Following the Mets’ recent signing of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports that fellow first baseman Dominic Smith is likely to start the season with Triple-A Las Vegas. That is contingent, of course, on the veteran Gonzalez’s ability to remain healthy, which isn’t a guarantee.

Smith, 22, struggled last season, batting .198/.262/.395 in 183 plate appearances. The Mets have also expressed concern about Smith’s conditioning. Puma reported in November that as a result of better dietary choices and a daily exercise regimen, Smith had already lost 11-12 pounds.

Gonzalez, 35, didn’t exactly have a stellar 2017 campaign. Along with battling back issues, Gonzalez hit .242/.287/.355 in 252 PA. That the Mets’ Plan A is to go with Gonzalez over Smith says something about their confidence in Smith.