Tony La Russa Says Players Union Is Trying to ‘Beat Up’ Albert Pujols


February 15, 2011

St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa held nothing back on Tuesday when discussed his feelings on the "uncalled for" pressure facing Albert Pujols and his agent Dan Lozano from the Major League Baseball Players Association in regards to contract negotiations for the superstar first baseman.

According to, La Russa has gone as far as saying that the MLBPA is attempting to "beat up" Pujols in an attempt to get the first baseman to sign the largest contract possible.

La Russa called the process " bull—-," adding that it's, "not the way it should be." 

La Russa believes that a player in Pujols' position should "look at all the factors … It shouldn't just be the most money."

Of course, the union sees Pujols as a player who could be a major factor in raising the salary bar, which is where any perceived pressure from the union would be coming from. La Russa said the process was, "not just arm-twisting. It's dropping an anvil on your back through the roof of your house."

Although there has been no hard evidence that the players union has pressured Pujols, there's no doubt in La Russa's mind that it hasn't gone on.

"[It's]a guaranteed assumption. It's gone on since I started managing. And I don't think they'd deny it."

Later on Tuesday, Michael Weiner, the executive director of the players' union, said, "The truth is we've had no conversations with Albert or Danny [Lozano, Pujols' agent] or anybody on Albert's behalf about the numbers in this negotiation. None.

"It's never been the union's policy to pressure players and certainly it's never been the union's policy to pressure players because they have to set the bar for other players."

Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said Monday that the deadline to reach a contract agreement with Pujols is still at 12 p.m. ET on Wednesday. The Cardinals agreed to a 24-hour extension on Pujols' self-imposed Tuesday deadline to reach a contract out of respect for Stan Musial, a Cardinals Hall of Famer, who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in Washington Tuesday.

Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright, who spent three seasons as the team's player representative, pointed out that it's the union's job to let the players earn as much money as possible.

"At the end of the day you have to do what's right for you and your family," Wainwright said. "The union I think understands that. Their job is to make sure we get the most that we can. That's what they're paid to do and that's what we pay them to do and that's why we need them."

La Russa also called Cliff Lee, who took less money to go to Philadelphia in the offseason, the exception when it comes to these negotiations. 

"I think Albert is very smart and very strong, and he's going to make a good decision," La Russa said. "I'm just saying I regret some of the pressure he's feeling trying to make a decision. It's tough enough as it is."

The manager left with a warning for any player in the league – "I've had a number of players over the years who took the [most] money and they've regretted it later."

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