La Russa has sought Bonds' bat for Cards haCardinals'front office

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Redbirds manager wanted the team to pursue the slugger the last two offseasons.

JUPITER, Fla. -- St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa had interest in signing Barry Bonds the last two offseasons, but each time the team's front office decided against it.

La Russa, who was looking for a power bat to protect No. 3 hitter Albert Pujols each year, said he was told the asking price for the home run king was too high. This winter, La Russa said he dropped the issue after a discussion with new general manager John Mozeliak.

"It became moot as soon as I raised it and they said no," La Russa said Sunday. "Once it became apparent what the price tag was, I said, 'We just can't, it doesn't make sense for our club.'"

The Cardinals will likely bat Troy Glaus in the cleanup spot behind Pujols. Glaus was acquired from the Blue Jays for disgruntled Scott Rolen.

Before going to management, La Russa said he polled his coaches on their interest in Bonds. He said some were in favor, some weren't.

Bonds, who broke Hank Aaron's career home run record with the San Francisco Giants in August, remains on the free agent market while under federal indictment on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.

Bonds has pleaded not guilty to the charges stemming from testimony to a federal grand jury in 2003 in which he said he never knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs.

La Russa wanted Bonds for what he could do on the field.

"One reason I would have loved to have had him as a teammate over the many years is his competitiveness, his talent and his work ethic," La Russa said. "This guy, that's some serious work that he does to get himself ready to compete."

The middle of the lineup is a bit of a question mark after the trades of Rolen and Jim Edmonds. In considering Bonds, La Russa said he was just being thorough.

"You're just trying to include all the possible candidates," La Russa said. "That's what I try to do."

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