ST. LOUIS — Tony La Russa is getting the band back together again. At least for a July night in Kansas City.
As the manager of last year’s World Series champion Cardinals, the retired La Russa will manage the National League squad in the July 10 All-Star Game at Kauffman Stadium. And Major League Baseball announced Wednesday that La Russa’s entire coaching staff from the 2011 Champion Cardinals will be joining him in the National League dugout at the Midsummer Classic.
“It will be good to see the guys and mingle again,” said third base coach Jose Oquendo.”We’re going to take it serious because the game means something and we’ll be prepared the best we can, but it’s always good to see the guys again.”
In addition to Brewers manager Ron Roenicke and New York Mets skipper Terry Collins, joining La Russa will be the six longtime members of his coaching staff for many years in St. Louis.
Pitching coach Dave Duncan, who took a leave of absence this year to be with his wife as she recovers from a serious medical condition, will join La Russa in making a return to the dugout. Current Cardinals pitching coach Derek Lilliquist will serve as the bullpen coach while hitting coach Mark McGwire and Oquendo will serve in their current roles.
First base coach Dave McKay, now with the Chicago Cubs, will coach first base while bench coach Joe Pettini, now with the Houston Astros, will serve the same position for the National League squad.
“It’s going to be awesome,” McGwire said. “I just hope Tony can fit into his uniform still. He’s been retired and has probably been eating ice cream, drinking a lot of wine, so I hope he can still fit into it.
“As a coach you never think about becoming an All-Star but it’s a good thing because it means you were in the World Series. It’s a cool thing. I’ll cherish it definitely.”
While the other members of the coaching staff served as coaches for the National League squad in 2005 and 2007, it will be the first All-Star squad coaching assignment for McGwire, who took over as the Cardinals hitting coach in 2010.
McGwire made 12 All-Star appearances as a player and participated in many memorable Home Run Derby events. This time, he’ll be able to sit back and watch.
“I will be able to soak it in much more because as coach you get to sit there and watch the greatest in the game at the same time,” McGwire said.”I never thought it would happen. I’m gladly accepting the offer.”
It will be a fitting end in uniform for La Russa, who made his Major League debut with the Kansas City A’s in 1963. He spent 16 seasons in St. Louis to finish his career, nearly all of them with the coaches that will be joining him next month.
“I think it’s a final farewell to obviously an unbelievable career,” Matheny said. “Obviously Bud Selig asked him to do it and I think it’s well deserving that he does it. I don’t know if it’s ever happened this way before but it’s a nice way to put a cherry on top of an unbelievable career as a manager for Tony.”
And even though La Russa is not currently managing, nobody needs to wonder how seriously he will take the game. Whether home field advantage in the World Series is on the line or not, La Russa will try and do whatever it takes to win.
“Tony knows the history and he knows what’s at stake,” Oquendo said. “We all know. We’re going to push for a win.”