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02/24/08 6:16 PM ET

La Russa's Bonds suggestion rejected

Manager thought home run leader would help protect Pujols

JUPITER, Fla. -- Cardinals manager Tony La Russa acknowledged Sunday that he recommended to club brass this offseason that St. Louis sign all-time home run champion Barry Bonds. The suggestion didn't get far.

"What I've said each of the last two years is that when you're looking for somebody dangerous to hit behind Albert [Pujols], Barry was a guy that I thought," La Russa said.

"And for whatever reason, at the general manager or ownership level, they didn't agree that he would be a guy that they thought we should add. I understand. Organization chart -- they're my bosses. That's exactly what happened."

It was the second year in a row that La Russa explored the possibility of bringing Bonds to St. Louis. This time around, the notion didn't get as far as it did a year ago. During the 2006 Winter Meetings, La Russa discussed the possibility with Bonds but found the slugger not entirely receptive.

"I was excited about Barry because I had spent the winter around California that year and I had heard all the things Barry said he wanted," La Russa said. "And so I told him, 'We've got everything you want except money. And you shouldn't want money. You've already got money.' We never got past that."

This time around, a philosophical stance by the organization stopped the idea before it got very far. The Cardinals have a slew of talented young outfielders, and general manager John Mozeliak wants them to play.

"The whole idea of what we tried to do this offseason was to give some of these younger players a chance to play," he said. "Obviously, when we brought in [Juan] Gonzalez, [he was] highly recommended, but there was no risk on our part. I think that's the one guy we'll give it a shot with, and other than that we want to give these younger players a chance to play."

La Russa said he had little concern either with the questions about Bonds' qualities as a teammate or the looming legal issues surrounding Bonds.

"I'm not oblivious to it, but I don't think that's the opinion that I'm supposed to give," he said. "If a guy for example has a reputation for -- you know, Barry kind of was standoffish, not into the team thing so much. I didn't think that would be a problem here. That's what I said. On the baseball side, what would help us win games?"

La Russa said that another prominent past target, Roger Clemens, didn't come up in discussions about the 2008 team.

"With Clemens, I think we all agreed -- ownership, front office -- that he would be a good guy for our club last year," La Russa said. "This year, I don't know that he's getting himself in shape to pitch."

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.