La Russa says Cards will do what's right for team, not player

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La
Russa wants third baseman Scott Rolen back.

But only on the team's terms.

"He's got a contract to play, and we need him to play," La
Russa said Wednesday at the baseball winter meetings. "And he's
going to be treated very honestly. If he plays hard and plays as
well as he can, he plays. And if he doesn't, he can sit. If he
doesn't like it, he can quit."

La Russa and Rolen have been feuding at least since the 2006
postseason, when Rolen was benched while struggling with a shoulder
injury. The spat lingered last season, and La Russa said Rolen was
the lone dissenting voice when the manager was deciding whether to
return for another year.

"It was unanimous that everyone was for me except him," La
Russa said. "It's gotten to the point where I don't care. What I
care about is that he re-establish his stature as a major league
productive star."

La Russa said the organization has gone out of its way to show
Rolen respect, and "it's time for him to give back."

"Scott's got a lot of goodness to him. ... I think he has been
a team man. He plays a team sport. I don't think he's going to want
to be the one guy and the 24 guys on the other side of the room."

Rolen issued a cool statement through his agents, Sam and Seth

"These are matters that I never discussed publicly and are
matters that should have remained private," Rolen said. "I will
not dignify Tony's comments with any response at this time."

Rolen was fighting fatigue and soreness in his surgically
repaired left shoulder when he hit .188 without an RBI in the first
two rounds of 2006 NL playoffs. Saying Rolen's swing didn't look
right, La Russa benched him for Game 2 of the NL championship

Rolen wasn't happy about it, and the two stopped talking to each

In the World Series, Rolen hit .421 with a homer, three doubles
and two RBIs as the Cardinals beat the Detroit Tigers in five

La Russa said Wednesday that Rolen asked for a trade, and the
Cardinals are exploring their options. But he insisted that the
team won't "accommodate" Rolen.

"There's absolutely no intention to accommodate Scott. I mean,
that's not how you run an organization," La Russa said. "The idea
is to accommodate the St. Louis Cardinals, our team, our
responsibility to our players and to the competition.

"So, no, I don't want to accommodate Scott. But somebody
doesn't want to be part of the situation, you investigate it."

The Los Angeles Dodgers are among those interested.

"They can make their inquiries," La Russa said. "But the
whole idea isn't to please Scott; it's to take care of the St.
Louis Cardinals."

Seth Levinson made it sound as if a trade was inevitable.

"It is entirely disingenuous for Tony to claim to be mystified
when last year, the organization in a conference call apologized
for his highly inappropriate behavior," he said. "This year, Tony
wrote a letter and left a follow-up voicemail which would prove to
any reasonable person that the relationship is irreparably

After batting .296 with 22 homers and 95 RBIs in '06, Rolen
dropped to .265, eight homers and 58 RBIs this season. Even so, La
Russa said he wants him back.

"Nobody has more often said that I don't think Scott should be
traded than me," La Russa said. "I think he should be with our
club. I think we need him. We need him to reassert himself as an
impact player. I don't care what anybody wants in a trade. We need
him and we expect him to be productive."