La Russa to miss rest of road trip with shingles
On pain medication, Cards manager to rest, recuperate this week
CHICAGO -- Manager Tony La Russa will miss the remainder of the Cardinals' current road trip, which concludes Sunday, because of a persistent case of shingles, the team announced Tuesday night.
Bench coach Joe Pettini served as the nominal interim manager for the Cardinals in their 6-4 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field, and he will continue to do so for the remainder of the week. But in truth, the Redbirds will go with more of a managerial committee. Pitching coach Dave Duncan will handle pitching decisions while La Russa is out. First-base coach Dave McKay and third-base coach Jose Oquendo will take care of offensive tactical decisions, and Pettini will handle defensive moves and lineup switches.
Such matters were relatively minor in the Cards' minds, though, compared to the concern for La Russa. His illness has sapped his energy in recent weeks, and he has dealt with significant pain for the entire time. La Russa went to Arizona on the club's off-day on Monday for a routine physical related to his status with the Animal Rescue Foundation, but took advantage of his trip to the clinic to get some additional information on his shingles.
Upon advice from doctors, he will take the next week to rest and recuperate.
"He'll go on a certain medication to help with the pain, and we're obviously very hopeful to have him join us on Monday when the team returns back to St. Louis," general manager John Mozeliak said Tuesday night.
"I think they feel like the best treatment for this is rest and time away. Clearly nothing has changed as far as his condition in terms of being worse than what we were led on to believe or anything of that nature. So that part is good news. Now he's just got to allow the medication to work."
Mozeliak repeated Tuesday night that, at the current time, there are no plans for the Cardinals to add an extra coach. He noted that St. Louis typically carries one extra coach as it is -- assistant hitting coach Mike Aldrete.
Players and coaches had noticed the degree to which the illness had changed La Russa's affect, and many expressed relief that he will take time to get healthy.
"I've never, ever seen Tony to where he's not full-bore at everything," Pettini said. "Now, he was [that way] during the games. He gutted it out during the game. But before the game, every day you'd come in, you'd ask, 'How you doing, skipper,' and you're hoping to get a little better answer. But every day he would just shake his head and say, 'Not any better.'"
Said Tigers manager Jim Leyland, one of La Russa's best friends in baseball: "Those things are real bad and they sometimes take quite a while to go away. He's hurting. ... I talked to him two or three times yesterday and he's hurting."
La Russa first contracted the condition during the team's first road trip, during the second week of April. It has caused him significant pain in his right eye. The discoloration that had marked his face has mostly gone away, but the discomfort has not.
"This is not something that he necessarily wished would happen to him, but he recognizes it's for the best for him and the organization," Mozeliak said.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.