Tony La Russa and Dusty Baker are squabbling over La Russa’s perceived snub of some Reds players. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
As the controversy continues to simmer over Tony La Russa’s perceive All-Star snubs of Cincinnati Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto and second baseman Brandon Phillips, MLB commissioner Bud Selig shielded La Russa on Monday from the criticism.
“Well let me just say this, Tony will answer all questions about his team,” Selig said, according to MLB.com. “But you look at the list of pitchers, and I went over that with Tony, and I think in the end there were a lot of pitchers available. And I think in the end, they picked their strongest staffs.
“Every year, there’s always some struggles. We’ve had less controversy this year. Everybody would like to have all their players on, but in fairness to the Cincinnati Reds, they have three players on [the NL team], and that’s a strong showing.”
The retired La Russa is managing the National League team. He and Reds manager Dusty Baker have been squabbling since the announcement of the All-Star Game rosters on Sunday. La Russa chose not to take Cueto — 9-4 with a 2.26 ERA this season — or Phillips, who’s batting .285 with 10 homers and a .770 OPS. Baker immediately became a conspiracy theorist, charging La Russa with snubbing the Reds players based off a 2010 brawl between Cincinnati and St. Louis.
“A snub like that looks bad,” Baker told reporters Sunday. “Johnny and Brandon were at the center of a skirmish between us and the Cardinals. Some of the Cardinals who aren’t there anymore are making some of the selections.”
La Russa, in turn, defended the non-selection of Cueto by saying he was lined up to pitch Sunday. Still, Cueto could have been selected and then chosen to not participate. He used the same argument defending his decision to leave out Brewers pitcher Zack Greinke, who is 9-2 with a 3.08 ERA this year. Greinke, in fact, is scheduled to pitch Saturday, according to ESPN.
La Russa spoke to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Monday, and he got angry specifically when talking about Baker’s criticism of him leaving Phillips off the roster.
“Maybe Dusty could let me know who he would like to take off the team to put Phillips on,” said La Russa. “Which of these guys would he like me to kick off? I’d like to know that. There’s a second baseman over in Arizona (Aaron Hill) who has credentials to be on the team.
“I don’t take that kind of (bleep). That’s typical … (from Baker) and that’s unacceptable. There’s no question I did the right thing. I haven’t been this ticked off since … well, nothing.”