The St. Louis Cardinals anticipate catcher Jason LaRue retiring after he sustained a concussion in a brawl last month with the Cincinnati Reds.
Manager Tony La Russa said Sunday that he last spoke a few days ago with the 36-year-old LaRue, who was kicked in the head by Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto in the Aug. 10 dustup. General manager John Mozeliak also said LaRue had not yet made a formal decision.
La Russa said LaRue told him he'd been improving. LaRue's played the last three seasons with the Cardinals and had one year with the Royals in 2007 after beginning his career with the Reds in 1999.
''He was starting to feel better, but it didn't look like he was coming back,'' La Russa said. ''I think he's being smart taking care of himself, and I think his family's happy about that.''
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch first reported that LaRue, the backup behind Yadier Molina, had decided to retire. The newspaper said LaRue estimated he'd sustained ''close to 20'' concussions in his athletic career, including high school football.
LaRue's best year offensively was in 2005 when he batted .260 with 14 homers and 60 RBI for Cincinnati. He hit .196 with two homers and five RBI in 56 at-bats this season.
''He's in a great position as long as he takes real good care of his head,'' La Russa said. ''He's had a very solid major league career, a lot of highlights, and I know one of them is he hit a homer last year that put our magic number at zero.
''He's got a great life ahead of him.''
Teammates said they expected to see LaRue, who hasn't been with the Cardinals since shortly after the injury, when they open a three-game series at Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
The Cardinals have a pair of young prospects at catcher behind the 28-year-old Molina, who's won a Gold Glove the last two years.
Matt Pagnozzi caught Adam Wainwright's 19th victory on Sunday, and Bryan Anderson batted .273 in 22 at-bats during a short stint earlier in the year.