Tony La Russa, Colby Rasmus Appear to Be Having Some Problems
After two weeks of coming off the bench, Colby Rasmus was set to return to the starting lineup on Sunday. Twenty minutes before the first pitch, La Russa called an audible and Jon Jay was in center field against the Nationals. La Russa explained what was deemed a manager's decision.
"I've done it for years," La Russa told reporters. "When a guy's ready, you give him one more day just to have that peace of mind. We felt like a day game would be a push. You start sweating, dehydrating. He'll be in there tomorrow"
Rasmus gave the same line after the game and said that there was no setback with his recovery from a calf injury. All in all, it sounds like a good policy, so long as you ignore the fact that Rasmus was in the lineup for quite a while before La Russa went in a different direction. It probably isn't surprising, then, that more color began to appear after the game.
Bernie Miklasz and Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch both seem pretty convinced that the move was part of an ongoing issue between La Russa and Rasmus that has been simmering for some time. Miklasz doesn't know what is causing the problem, but calls it "very strange" and says it must end. Strauss goes further and believes it is "a fair guess" that either La Russa or Rasmus will not be back with the Cardinals in 2011.
A lot of smoke and no fire at this point, although history does show that La Russa has not been immune from getting into feuds with players over the years. If Strauss' guess comes true, though, it will be interesting to see which way the Cardinals choose to go.
Rasmus just turned 24 and has blossomed into the all-around player that everyone predicted he would be as he climbed the ladder to St. Louis. He's a good defensive player, has posted an .853 OPS and has shown considerable improvement over what was a good rookie year in 2009. That's not the kind of player you like to get rid of on a whim.
Nor, obviously, is La Russa the kind of manager that you toss aside without a lot of thought. That makes for a difficult decision, assuming, of course, that this can't all be salvaged by everyone acting like grown-ups and allowing bygones to be bygones.
You might even be able to get Cardinals fans to march on Washington to help make it happen.
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