07/06/12 2:24 PM ET
La Russa, Baker trade barbs over All-Star picks
By Zack Meisel / MLB.com
Baker wasn't pleased Sunday when Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto and second baseman Brandon Phillips were omitted from the National League All-Star team. Cincinnati's skipper cited past altercations between his club and La Russa -- who will manage the NL All-Stars -- as the reason his duo was left off the squad.
Cueto is 9-5 with a 2.35 ERA in 17 starts. Phillips, a two-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner, is hitting .283 with 10 home runs and 47 RBIs.
Following fan voting to determine the starters and player voting to decide a group of bench players, La Russa made nine selections to fill out the NL roster. He chose pitchers Cole Hamels, Clayton Kershaw, Wade Miley, Jonathan Papelbon and Huston Street, catcher Carlos Ruiz, infielder Ian Desmond and outfielders Giancarlo Stanton and Jay Bruce.
Despite the choice of Bruce, who is batting .254 with 17 homers and 54 RBIs for the Reds, Baker linked La Russa's selections to a history between the Reds and the Cardinals, who La Russa managed for 16 years before retiring following last season's World Series triumph. At Great American Ball Park in August 2010, the Reds and Cardinals took part in a bench-clearing brawl in which Cueto and Phillips played prevalent roles.
"Somebody always gets snubbed," Baker said. "It just kind of looks bad that Johnny and Brandon were at the center of our skirmish between us and the Cardinals. Some of the Cardinals that aren't there anymore are making some of the selections."
La Russa took Baker's words personally, and responded Thursday on the Dan Patrick Show.
"I feel betrayed by him," La Russa said. "Professionally is one thing, but that was personal. I'm really upset about it ... I don't know how to explain it except maybe he was making points with his players and somebody needed to be sacrificed and it was me.
"That was a knife in the back there that I don't think I'll forget."
La Russa noted how managers on both sides are scrutinized each year for certain players they leave off the All-Star rosters. He said that the players had the opportunity to select Cueto and Phillips before the decision even reached him. La Russa chose Bruce in favor of Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday, who is hitting .318 with 14 homers and 56 RBIs.
"I'd love to be able to go into a courtroom and explain my team," La Russa said.