This weekend anonymous sources from inside the Cardinals dugout told Joe Strauss of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH about a blowup between Tony La Russa and Albert Pujols
First baseman Albert Pujols and manager Tony La Russa on Saturday played down a heated exchange between the two after Pujols was left standing at the plate Friday on right fielder Ryan Ludwick’s unsuccessful steal attempt.
The three-time NL Most Valuable Player became visibly irritated when, with the Cardinals leading the Los Angeles Angels by four runs, Ludwick became the eighth inning’s final out. Pujols flipped his bat and helmet as he returned to the dugout then smacked two trays of gum from a bench against the Cardinals dugout wall.
La Russa reprimanded Pujols, saying, “That’s enough.”
Pujols responded and, according to eyewitnesses, the exchange escalated with La Russa telling Pujols at one point, “I (expletive) know how to manage.”
Friday’s display suggested impatience with a manager willing to open first base with him at the plate.
La Russa and Pujols predictably downplayed the incident to Strauss, which had La Russa steamed when meeting with the press on Friday night.
More interesting than the incident itself is who sold out La Russa from inside the Cardinals dugout. Strauss was able to glean from anon sources exactly what the manager said but provided no details on what Pujols “responded” with.
Strauss reported on his Twitter account Friday that Ludwick’s steal attempt, which came with Pujols at the plate and the Cardinals leading 9-5 in the bottom of the eighth inning was ordered by La Russa. After Friday’s caught stealing, Ludwick has yet to steal a base this season though he’s been caught trying three times.
If you think that’s over-managing, consider Saturday’s game.
LaRussa pulled Pujols in the ninth inning with the Cardinals down 10-4.
Thanks to three Cards hits and two Angels errors in the bottom of the inning, Jon Jay - batting in Pujols’ spot in the lineup - batted as the tying run with two outs.
Jay struck out to end the game.
With that kind of unbelievably appalling treatment of baseball’s best player by La Russa, I can’t blame Pujols for his outburst. From Strauss’ anonymously-sourced report, apparently nor can Pujols’ teammates.