Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Commissioner Reflects on Baseball's Changes

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Commissioner Reflects on Baseball's Changes

Article excerpt

MIAMI -- Baseball commissioner Bud Selig on Wednesday night observed a Cardinals team playing without first baseman Albert Pujols for the first time since 2001 and without manager Tony La Russa for the first time since 1996.

"It just shows you that nothing in baseball is forever," said Selig before the Cardinals opened the season with the Miami Marlins. "But I do have a really high opinion of [Cardinals manager] Mike Matheny. He caught for me for six or seven years in Milwaukee. A wonderful man.

"Tony was there a long, long time. He's moved on. And Albert has as well. It's happened to almost every player who's played the game, especially in the last decade."

Selig and La Russa were on hand Wednesday. But while La Russa is working for Selig, he was not connected with him on this night.

La Russa represented Major League Baseball and MLB.com in a chat he participated in along with former pitching star Jack Morris and former slugger Frank Thomas.

Selig, who visited a veterans hospital among other activities Wednesday, acknowledged La Russa's involvement with the commissioner's office on "special projects" but repeated his position from a month or so ago that La Russa could leave if he got an offer from a team to be in the front office.

"I'm aware that he'd probably rather be with a ball club," Selig said.

"I have great affection for him and have great respect for his abilities. I've given him some projects and he's a pleasure to work with. He's doing very good work here."

Although Joe Torre, another former Cardinals manager, has rejoined the commissioner's office as executive vice president of baseball operations, La Russa reports not to Torre but directly to Selig, the commissioner said.

"Joe's the on-field guy. Tony's doing projects apart from him," Selig said.

La Russa has no title.

"Not yet," Selig said. "But he's got only one boss, me, so that's easy."

Both remain on Selig's 14-person, blue-ribbon panel to study and improve on-field matters.

Selig said, "I told both of them that once you get on the committee, you never get off."

When he spent a half-hour answering media questions before the opener, Selig talked about the new Marlins Park, Joey Votto's contract with Cincinnati, the proposed international draft, potential realignment and the designated hitter. …

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