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La Russa stays in St. Louis

From the Associated Press

Tony La Russa tended to his many pets on the West Coast for a week or so, and made up his mind: He wanted to keep managing.

Now, he’s hoping the St. Louis Cardinals can make an equally quick decision on hiring a general manager.

La Russa agreed Monday to a two-year contract to stay in St. Louis, confident that the Cardinals can still be contenders. A year after winning the World Series, the Cardinals endured a disappointing 78-victory season. General Manager Walt Jocketty, who hired La Russa in 1995, was fired this month.

La Russa, 63, who has an Animal Rescue Foundation, never courted offers from other teams. He would have preferred the new general manager give the OK for his return, but La Russa felt it was important to finalize his status heading into free agency. Team Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said all the GM candidates he has talked to have said they’d have no problem working with La Russa.

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“I’m real pleased it worked out,” La Russa said. “I’m thrilled to be back.”

La Russa has led St. Louis to seven playoff appearances, six National League Central titles, two pennants and the 2006 World Series win over Detroit.

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The New York Yankees began the interview process for their new manager, with former Florida Marlins manager Joe Girardi spending about an hour at Legends Field in Tampa, Fla. Yankees bench coach Don Mattingly was due in today and New York first base coach Tony Pena on Wednesday.

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The Seattle Mariners overhauled their coaching staff, hiring Mel Stottlemyre, Jim Riggleman and Norm Charlton.

Stottlemyre, a former pitching coach with the Yankees and Mets, took the same position in Seattle. Riggleman, a former manager in the majors, will be the bench coach. Charlton, who spent 13 seasons as a relief pitcher, is the bullpen coach.

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The Angels announced their schedule for the 2008 season, including their home opener Thursday, April 4, against Texas. The Angels will open the season with a four-game trip at Minnesota (March 31-April 3).

Also on next season’s schedule are home games against the Dodgers (May 16-18) and home interleague games against Atlanta (June 13-15) and the New York Mets (June 16-18). They end the season with a three-game series (Sept. 26-28) against Texas at Angel Stadium.

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Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Sunday night drew an 11.7 rating, 8% better than the 10.8 earned by last year’s NLCS Game 7 between the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Mets. It was the highest-rated LCS game since 2004.

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