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Mark McGwire rejoins Tony La Russa in St. Louis

Former slugger is hired as Cardinals' hitting coach, and manager says he will return for 15th season with the club.

October 27, 2009|Associated Press

Mark McGwire is back in baseball, reunited with Tony La Russa as the St. Louis Cardinals' hitting coach.

La Russa on Monday agreed to return for a 15th year as manager with a one-year contract, the first time he hasn't had a multiyear deal with the team. All of his coaches will return except Hal McRae, who will be replaced by McGwire.

"Mark is passionate about the game, passionate about the Cardinals," team Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said. "Tony thinks he'll be a great coach, and I think he's got a lot to offer."

McGwire, 46, was not at the news conference at Busch Stadium, but La Russa and General Manager John Mozeliak said there will be no effort to shield McGwire from questions about steroids. The team anticipated a telephone news conference with McGwire.

"By no means is he trying to hide, and by no means are we trying to hide him," Mozeliak said.

McGwire hit a then-record 70 home runs in 1998 and retired in 2001 with 583 home runs and a .263 average. He famously refused to answer questions about steroid use during a March 2005 congressional hearing, saying he wasn't there to talk about the past.

He has received just under 25% support from voters in his three appearances on the Hall of Fame ballot, well under the 75% needed.

La Russa, who turned 65 on Oct. 4, had been assessing his interest in returning since the National League Central champion Cardinals were swept in the division series by the Dodgers. His two-year, $8.5-million contract was to expire at the end of the month.

"I would be here if Mark wasn't the coach," La Russa said. "The fact that he's here adds some more fire to the gut."

McRae was hitting coach for five seasons, but the team struggled offensively toward the end of the season and in the playoffs.

Pitching coach Dave Duncan also will return. He became upset with the organization, fans and reporters when his son, Chris, was traded to Boston in July.

The outfielder was released by the Red Sox soon after the trade.


Griffey has surgery

Ken Griffey Jr. had arthroscopic surgery in Cincinnati to remove a bone spur in his left knee, the Seattle Mariners announced.

Griffey, who turns 40 in November, has not announced whether he will play in 2010.


Must-watch TV

Fox said that its coverage of Game 6 of the American League Championship Series between the Angels and the New York Yankees was watched by 26.4% of the New York market's homes with televisions and 40% of households with TVs in use at the time.

Fans of the Philadelphia Phillies were apparently scouting their next opponent: The figures were 20.6 and 31 in the Philadelphia market.

Nationally, the entire ALCS averaged a 6.5/12, up 35% from the 4.8/8 for the five-game Phillies-Dodgers NLCS on the network last year.

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