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La Russa to oversee entire Diamondbacks operation

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: May 19 2014 12:05:43 AM CDT
Updated On: May 19 2014 11:46:49 AM CDT
Tony La Russa

Jim Young/Reuters

PHOENIX -

The Diamondbacks reorganized their baseball operations behind Hall of Famer Tony La Russa on Saturday, hiring him as their first chief baseball officer after a struggling six weeks.

"Something had to be done," Diamondbacks president/CEO Derrick Hall said.

La Russa, 69, will oversee every phase of the baseball operation and report directly to Hall, who said the D-backs interviewed candidates for both the newly created position and for the general manager position held by Kevin Towers. General managers usually report only to the president, but the D-backs reworked Towers' contract to say he will report to La Russa.

"You can't have enough good baseball people in your front office," Towers said. "I know that he loves to compete and he loves to win. That's what this is all about. We're a better organization today than we were yesterday by having his presence here."

La Russa's resume includes 2,728 victories, three World Series titles, four manager of the year awards and 12 division titles in a 35-year managerial career with the Chicago White Sox, Oakland and the Cardinals. He retired in 2011 and will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this summer.

"This morning, for the first time, boy, I felt the guts starting to churn," La Russa said of his return to competition. "You realize this is going to happen, and you are back in the competitive action. That's all I've known for 50 years. I wanted to get back in the action. I never have missed the managing. I've missed the winning and losing. My heart is pure and my intentions are great. I'll do the best I can. We're going to improve."

Immediate personnel changes are not anticipated, and the D-backs understand the depth of their hole. They entered Monday's off day 10 1/2 games behind San Francisco in the NL West and with the third-lowest winning percentage in the majors.

"We don't expect that any one person can change this overnight," Kendrick said. "It took us awhile to get where we are. It will take us awhile to change it. We think we have the right guy at the right time."

Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire, in the opposite dugout when the change was announced Saturday, probably best summed up the respect for La Russa in the baseball community.

"It seems like everything he puts his hand on turns to gold," McGwire said.