La Russa Interviews – May 4, 2007

The Cardinals skipper spoke very openly and patiently with the press for an unusually long time - 30 minutes or more - prior to Friday's game against the Astros. The main subject was the circumstances surrounding dealing with the loss of pitcher Josh Hancock, including a new clubhouse ban on alcohol. Post-game interviews with La Russa and Friday's winning pitcher Adam Wainwright are included.

Note: Audio clips are subscriber-only.

Part one is a brief discussion on Juan Encarnacion (no time to get info), So Taguchi being in line-up instead of Skip Schumaker, So may lead off instead of Kennedy Friday night, Preston Wilson not in lineup. (The Astros change in pitcher from Chris Sampson (sinus problem) to Woody Williams caused La Russa to tear up his line-up card part way through. Wilson is starting and leading off.)


Part two: Tony's feelings on the Memorial Service for Josh Hancock Thursday, plans for pre-game reflection, finality of situation, grieving process and mental/physical toughness, "don't know who is perfect", differences and similarities with Darryl Kile's death, remembrances of Hancock from La Russa and Randy Flores.


Part three: Decision to ban beer/alcohol from Cards clubhouse made already by Walt Jocketty based on discussions with Bill DeWitt and Mark Lamping, smart but not meaningful since guys don't hang around clubhouse, they are discussing changes to alcohol policy when traveling (today plane has beer and airline-sized liquor bottles), mentorship by BAT and veterans. Tony reiterates the team doesn't have clubhouse or airplane drinking problem and the team's airline behavior has been complimented by the charter airline personnel. He recounted his conversations with Hancock on Thursday and Friday and did not see hangover evidence but acknowledged there were conversations (afterward?) about whether there had been an ongoing problem. La Russa discussed makeup of roster (most of team's youth in pen) and fact most of the players go home to families in St. Louis. Rules already in place for roadtrips – curfews, reporting times. The right time to stop asking questions was discussed. La Russa expressed concerns about inaccurate rumors that other players were involved. Team won't have problem with clubhouse decision.


Part four: Head Trainer Barry Weinberg's father died, burial on Sunday. Cardinals will be represented.


Part five: More on speakers at Thursday's services, impact on Jason Isringhausen as bullpen leader, others who called La Russa about the tragedy, the idea of him being part of public messaging on the issues (never asked), considers "an insult" that his leadership could be impacted by this or his problem in Florida this spring. Reaction of club now based on 2002 experience, but 2002 team played into first place, where this team is less than competing at their best. "You will see improvement" is his closing.


Post-Game Interviews

Tony La Russa: (6:25)

Adam Wainwright: (3:51)

Note: Friday's original Houston starter, Chris Sampson, will go on Sunday, with original Saturday starter Matt Albers moving up one day. The Cardinals Tuesday starter is "TBD". More news on Chris Carpenter's progress is expected on Saturday.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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