ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) — New manager Mike Matheny was officially introduced by Managing Partner/Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. along with Vice President/General Manager John Mozeliak at Busch Stadium on Monday morning becoming the 49th manager in St. Louis Cardinals franchise history.
As a roving coach within the Cardinals minor-league system the last two years, Matheny will be managing a ball club for the first time in his professional coaching career after retiring as a player in 2007. The announcement on Monday occurs exactly three weeks after the retirement of future Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa following the Redbirds historic run to win their 11th World Series Championship.
Wearing the #22 jersey as he once did as a player seven years ago, Matheny was extremely thankful for the tremendous opportunity granted by DeWitt, Mozeliak, and the search committee that was made up of franchise personnel. After thanking the Cardinals organization, his family and friends, plus God, Matheny then addressed Cardinal Nation by saying, “There’s a high level of what has been known as the Cardinal way, that I plan to carry through with.” He also adds that this is the “greatest honor of his life.”
When asked if he thought he could do the job Matheny replied, “I believe the experiences that I’ve learned up to this point from the field and off the field have led me to this point, right now, to be who I was made to be.” He added he would not have taken the job if he didn’t think he could do it.
During the interview process Matheny admitted that he talked to Tony La Russa one day when he was clearing out his office. “He (La Russa) has always opened that door for me. He spend the last four years really investing in me, and talking to me as if I were a manager.”
The lack of managerial experience was also addressed in the beginning by John Mozeliak who stated, “Through it all, we came back to one person, and when I think back to all the people we spoke with, all the due diligence we put into this, all arrows pointed to Mike.”
Regarding the rest of the coaching staff, Mozeliak said that they were hopeful of everyone returning by the end of the week. Currently, pitching coach Dave Duncan, who did some of his best work with Matheny as the catcher, is the only coach from Tony La Russa’s staff to be signed for next season.
As for the players, many showed support for Matheny. Series MVP David Freese (@dfreese23) said via twitter Sunday, “Can I still call Matheny #CaptainAmerica now that he’s my new manager? We’ll see… Love the hire. STL should be pumped.”
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Following the coaching staff decisions, the next big move for the Cardinals will be to resign or pass on free-agent first baseman Albert Pujols. Recently offered a deal from the Miami Marlins organization last week, Pujols and his representation are expected to talk with other interested franchises before negotiating with the Cardinals. Matheny joined the club as a free agent the season before Pujols found his way on the roster. They played together for four seasons, including 2004 when the Redbirds won their first National League Championship since 1987.
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