Players happy to have La Russa on board
Day-to-day interaction expected to be limited with new chief baseball officer
PHOENIX -- The most time pitcher Bronson Arroyo has spent with Tony La Russa, the D-backs' new chief baseball officer, was off the diamond and during a concert.
The D-backs' right-hander -- an accomplished guitarist -- was playing at a show in St. Louis, and La Russa arrived near the end of the performance.
"He showed up kind of when we were finished, and he wanted me to play some more tunes," Arroyo said. "So me and my buddy played about another hour of songs for Tony. But other than that ... the only interaction I had with him is just across the field."
And the players don't expect La Russa, who was introduced Saturday as the team's first chief baseball officer, to have much more interaction with them than that.
"The more smart people you can bring into an organization, the better," pitcher Brandon McCarthy said. "But I don't know how far that extends in the clubhouse. It's not a day-to-day coaching job. It's not a managerial job. It's more on top. It's something you don't see very often."
McCarthy compared La Russa's hiring to when the Texas Rangers, whom he pitched for from 2007-09, hired Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan.
"Nolan came in and everybody had the same questions," he said. "In three years, you saw Nolan a handful of times."
Said Arroyo: "From a player's standpoint, a lot of times the front office is very segregated from us, and they don't like to leak a whole lot of things out. They don't like to tell you their intentions because sometimes it hurts people's feelings."
But while La Russa's addition came as a surprise to the team, the players seem to agree that adding him to the organization will help the team going forward.
"It's a cool addition," McCarthy said. "I don't know how far that reach is or what the dynamic is. A mind like that is probably a great asset to have."
La Russa's managerial track record spans three teams and five separate decades. In that time, he won six league pennants and three World Series -- all as manager of the Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals -- and the players know his history.
"He's obviously been a guy who ... thought outside the box a bit," Arroyo said. "[He] found ways to be very inventive and found ways to win ballgames."
"I played against the Cardinals for 19 times a year in that Central Division, and it was always a mystique about him."
In his new role, which supersedes general manager Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson, La Russa will look to improve the D-backs' 16-28 record and last-place standing in the NL West. But the players aren't worried about what changes may come to the team.
"We just got to concentrate on playing better baseball," infielder Eric Chavez said. "Whatever moves are made, not to let it affect you too much. We've got a job to do. We got to play baseball, we got to play better, and let them deal with what they have to.
"I'm just going to worry about hitting fastballs."
Adam Lichtenstein is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.