"Can I envision Scott being a part of the 2008 Cardinals? Yes. But could there be a scenario in which something else happens? We're finding that out.
"I would describe it as a very delicate situation and one ... for the Cardinals to explore. (Rolen and his agents) have to understand what our return must be to even consider moving someone of Scott's talent."
Rolen, 32, hit only .265 with eight homers and 58 RBIs in 392 at-bats last season as he again struggled with his left shoulder, among other ailments. He had surgery near the end of the season.
Rolen's relationship with La Russa was damaged in 2005 after he suffered a shoulder injury that led to two surgeries. Rolen felt the club had misled him about the severity of his injury, and he ultimately went to Cincinnati Reds medical director Timothy Kremchek for a second procedure that year and also the one this year.
After the 2007 season, La Russa sent Rolen a letter, apparently outlining what he believed Rolen needed to do to regain an elite standing as a player. Rolen reportedly was not pleased to receive that missive.
NOTES AND QUOTES
--The Cardinals continued their front office restructuring. Jaron Madison was named assistant scouting director after working with San Diego the last two year. Amateur scouting coordinator Mike Girsch was promoted to director of player development.
--Former major league pitcher Brent Strom was hired as a roving minor league pitching instructor. Strom, who had been a pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals and Houston Astros, will work with minor league pitching coordinator Dyar Miller.
--Mark Riggins, who had been the minor league pitching coordinator, will join the Chicago Cubs organization after turning down a chance to be pitching coach at Class AAA Memphis in the Cardinals system.
--SS David Eckstein is the only one of eight free agents the Cardinals are expected to pursue with any vigor. RHP Troy Percival, who played the last few months of the season with the Cardinals, had indicated he wanted to return but said he wanted only to play the second half of the season again.
--CF Colby Rasmus was having a standout tournament for the United States team in the World Cup competition in Taiwan.
BY THE NUMBERS: .729 -- 3B Scott Rolen's on-base-plus-slugging percentage figure in 2007. His career figure had been .909.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I really believe in my heart of hearts he's 100 percent physically." -- GM John Mozeliak on the condition of 3B Scott Rolen after September shoulder surgery.