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LA RUSSA COMING BACK TO CARDS

Tony La Russa, who has had a contract extension offer on the table for several months, said Friday that he'll return for a seventh season as manager of the St. Louis Cardinals.

La Russa, whose contract expired after the season, has led the team to the postseason three times. The Cardinals were the NL wild-card team this year with a 93-69 record, then lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks in a five-game first-round series.

The first two times, La Russa led the Cardinals to the NLCS.

In a telephone interview from his home in the San Francisco area, La Russa said the length of his extension has not been discussed. He said he told General Manager Walt Jocketty he wanted to come back "and we'll be talking about it."

La Russa, 57, also waited until the end of the season in 1999 before signing a two-year extension for about $2 million per season. His next deal also likely would be for two years, and likely in the same salary range.

Next season will be La Russa's 24th consecutive year managing in the major leagues, after breaking in with the Chicago White Sox in 1979. He's not sure how long he wants to keep doing it.

Around the majors

Seven men have sued a retired clubhouse manager for the Boston Red Sox, claiming he sexually molested them while they were clubhouse boys at the team's spring training camp over a 20-year span. The men seek unspecified damages from Donald James Fitzpatrick, the clubhouse manager from 1970 to 1991 at the Winter Haven spring training site. They also blame the Red Sox for not doing anything about the alleged abuse.

The New York Mets completed their coaching staff for next season, hiring Matt Galante to coach third base and Tom Robson as bench coach.

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