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Monday, October 26, 2009

Mac is Back! La Russa to Install Mark McGwire as Cardinals Hitting Coach

Posted By on Mon, Oct 26, 2009 at 8:29 AM

I thought I was still slumbering this morning when I opened up the paper to read that Cardinals manager Tony La Russa is expected to sign a new two-year deal with the club on the condition that the Redbirds also sign tainted slugger Mark McGwire as hitting coach.

click to enlarge A triumphant return for Mr. McGwire?
  • A triumphant return for Mr. McGwire?
According to the Post-Dispatch, La Russa will sign a two-year, $8.5-million extension today with the Cardinals and lay out his plans for replacing hitting coach Hal McRae with McGwire.

La Russa and McGwire are old friends dating back to their days with the Oakland A's in the 1980s and early '90s. It was with the Cardinals, though, that McGwire's homerun swing took off with the first-basemen hitting 70 dingers in 1998 to smash Roger Maris' longtime record of 61. La Russa has also remained a staunch McGwire apologist following allegations that the slugger's hitting prowess was aided by steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs.

As the daily notes today, McGwire has served as a private hitting instuctor in recent years to several pro players and has earned "rave" reviews from his pupils.

Under McRae this season, the Cardinals bats went dull for much of the month of May and late-September. The hitting problems continued into the playoffs earlier this month, in which the Cardinals scored just six runs in their three-game sweep by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

In related news: Pitching coach Dave Duncan is also expected to re-sign with the Cardinals as part of La Russa's contract extension.

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