"I was just talking about this to someone last night. I don't even know the year he signed. Tejada. But, I watched him the first six years there (in Oakland) on TV. I had only seen him in person in one exhibition game we played. Last year in spring training, he had a hamstring, I guess. But, watching him this spring, he is a good, good hitter. He comes at that ball and "bang, whew". (He makes a swinging motion.)
"He is one of the best looking hitters… And for a guy that I didn't know… I should have known, given his credentials. But, gosh darn, he is a tough out. Put him in the middle and put those other guys around him… He is a good egg, he's got a nice arm. All those characteristics. I should have known, but gosh is he impressive."
La Russa's comments almost seemed wistful, as if the Cardinals could somehow have been able to match the Orioles' six-year, $72 million deal Tejada signed after the 2003 season.
About Roberts. "Over the last two or three years there's been some noise about trading him. And Walt (GM Jocketty) has always been talking with them trying to jump on it. But, they wouldn't pull the trigger." La Russa acknowledged now that fellow second basemen Jerry Hairston and Mike Fontenot were traded to the Cubs, Roberts isn't going anywhere. "No chance" was La Russa's reply.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.