Spring headlines: Tony La Russa might run Dodgers if billionaire Steve Cohen buys

David Brown
Big League Stew

Baseball is back! Here at Big League Stew, we'll take a quick dash around the league each morning in an attempt to keep you updated on all the springtime story lines.

• A hedge fund billionaire is favored to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers, and if he does, Steve Cohen would hire Tony La Russa for a "key front office position." That's the story from reporter Bob Nightengale of USA Today, who writes that Steve Cohen's bid of $1.6 billion leads the remaining field of four groups, which includes NBA legend Magic Johnson. Magic also reportedly bid $1.6 billion, but Cohen can produce at least half of the money in cash, which makes his offer the most attractive.

Cohen's group also reportedly includes sports agent Arn Tellem, but La Russa's presence — even though he's never been an executive — would give Cohen more credibility in the baseball department. La Russa won't stay retired forever (yet) and after leading the St. Louis Cardinals to the World Series, what's left to accomplish in a major-league dugout? What's a little odd about Nightengale's story, though, is that he uses retired celebrity interviewer Larry King — hello! — as a source. King was part of a group in the running to buy the Dodgers for a while.

King, a Dodgers season ticketholder, visited last weekend with Cohen at the team's spring-training complex and came away convinced Cohen would bring credibility to the franchise.

"Hiring Tony La Russa would be a great start," King said. "After talking to Steve, my own hunch is that Tony La Russa would become club president. Tony doesn't want to be the general manager."

La Russa, who has been working for Major League Baseball since his retirement as manager, was unavailable for comment.

It's better than quoting Piers Morgan, certainly. It's just ... odd. Is it reassuring to Dodgers fans that Larry King has signed off on Cohen, or is it disappointing he's not favoring Magic, the hometown kid? And what must Lisa Marie Presley think? Find out next!

• In his cleverly titled "What's Up With Yu" segment in the Dallas Morning News, reporter Evan Grant passes along a concern that Yu Darvish is getting away with illegal pitches caused by perspiration. Citing the website Sanspro.com (hastily translated version here), there are concerns among Cactus League scouts that Darvish is wiping sweat off his brow and touching the ball without stepping off the mound first. If he's doing it, rules say umpires should warn him or worse. If it's a transitional thing, do they really let pitchers do this in Japan?

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• Albert Pujols has hit his first two home runs for the Los Angeles Angels.

El Hombre hit a three-run shot and a solo blast in a 9-7 loss to the White Sox. Not that anyone is going to remember the result, the $254 million man said.

"I know it's spring training. The games probably don't count, but you still need to take the game serious," he added.

I like how he says "probably" — just in case.

• Roy Halladay's velocity is down, reports Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, citing a scout who watched Halladay get blasted by the Minnesota Twins in Grapefruit League play. Halladay, who is 34 years old, topped out at 89 mph and threw from a lower arm angle while lacking "bite" on his sinker and changeup, the scout said. This report by Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer might make some sense of it: Halladay knew he was struggling with his changeup and was tweaking it by telling catcher Carlos Ruiz to call for it over and over. Changeup sadist, the Doctor is.

"I'm going to use the entire spring training to get ready," Halladay said. "I feel like we're getting closer. Mechanically things are better. It's just the consistency of executing pitches. It's ultimately what I need to improve on the most."

• Buster Posey continued his comeback from a broken left leg, hitting his first homer of the spring for the San Francisco Giants in a 2-2 tie against the Indians. The Giants used Posey as a — gasp! — designated hitter as they ease him back into consistent catching duty. It's a good thing the DH is available, don't you think, Giants fans?

Spring Training has arrived! Follow Dave on Twitter — @AnswerDave and engage The Stew on Facebook for your fill of Grapefruit and Cactus!

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