Cardinals' manager Tony La Russa is blaming the Major League Baseball Players Association for pressing top players to seek huge contracts.
La Russa’s remarks were timed as Cardinals star Albert Pujols is about to report to spring training without a contract extension. Word is that Pujols, who could be a free agent at the end of the 2011 season, will shut down contract talks when he arrives at camp by Wednesday. He reportedly rejected an offer in the last two weeks.
Pujols has a no-trade clause, so the Cardinals risk losing him to just a draf pick if he elects free agency.
``The pressure that a high-profile player receives from the union and his representatives to push for the last dollar, neglecting anything else about that decision -- type of organization, longevity, loyalty, all that -- I don't think that's a real healthy part of our game,” La Russa told reporters in Jupiter, Fla. “And it's not just the Cardinals. The union, they're out there for their players, and they want to keep setting that bar higher and higher.”.
Pujols has said he will not discuss his contract—some say he wants 10 years in excess of $275 million—and La Russa said the team will also say little. ``They're working to get it set," La Russa said of the contract. ``In the meantime, we've got a really good club, and he's a part of it -- and we've got to get ready. I keep hearing this thing about distractions. You allow yourself to get distracted. We're not going to allow ourselves to get distracted -- which means you're going to get a lot of non-answers. Hopefully the players will do the same. It's not what we're here for.''