AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.“You’ve got to be honest, he’s probably the one guy who has issues with me,” La Russa said. “You hope he’s healthy, understand we have issues, and don’t let it get in the way.” A year after winning the World Series, the Cardinals endured a disappointing 78-win season. General Manager Walt Jocketty, who hired La Russa in 1995, was fired earlier this month. The 63-year-old La Russa never courted offers from other teams. He would have preferred the new GM give the OK for his return, but La Russa said it was important to finalize his status heading into free agency. Team chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said all the GM candidates he’s talked to have said they’d have no problem working with La Russa. “I’m real pleased it worked out,” La Russa said. “I’m thrilled to be back.” La Russa has led St. Louis to seven playoff appearances, six NL Central championships, two pennants and the 2006 World Series win over Detroit. His Oakland team won the 1989 World Series. DeWitt said he expects to hire a new GM by the end of the World Series. The candidates are all currently assistant GMs, including former Jocketty top aide John Mozeliak. Joe Girardi spoke with George Steinbrenner and they quickly found common ground: Northwestern football. “I talked to him about their 5-3 record and that they were one game from bowl eligibility and that was big for Northwestern, so we had some laughs about that,” Girardi said. Girardi is a Northwestern alumnus, and from his days as a catcher for the New York Yankees, he knew the owner is a former Northwestern assistant football coach. On Monday, they talked on a different level, with Girardi becoming the first person to interview as a potential replacement for departed manager Joe Torre. He struck a Steinbrenner-like tone. “I wouldn’t expect anything else from the players in New York or for myself but to be the best,” Girardi said. Yankees bench coach Don Mattingly, scheduled to be interviewed today, is considered the favorite. New York first base coach Tony Pena is slated for a Wednesday interview. “I choose not to place odds on anyone or to think that one person has an advantage over another,” Girardi said. Sometime in the future, once the biting sting of defeat eases, the Cleveland Indians will look back on a 2007 season that began in falling snow and ended with a stunning collapse. They’ll savor all the good moments. Not just yet. “Maybe in a week or so I’ll be able to reflect back and be like, `Wow, we had a pretty good season for a team that’s come a long way,”‘ Indians pitcher C.C. Sabathia said. “But right now it still hurts.” On Monday, just hours after their October odyssey stopped one win shy of the World Series with a Game 7 loss in the AL Championship Series at Boston, the Indians gathered for the final time at Jacobs Field. Silence replaced the usual laughter in the clubhouse. “We’ve got a lot of great young players,” first baseman Ryan Garko said. “We have a lot of kids. This is our first full season, myself included. We learned a lot about ourselves and what it’s like to play in the big leagues. We could be having games and seasons like that for a long time to come. Hopefully, we can keep getting back to the playoffs and Game 7s – and win a few.” ETC.: Baseball investigator George Mitchell, also a director for the AL champion Red Sox, denied providing information for a story that Indians pitcher Paul Byrd used human growth hormone. Before Game 7 on Sunday, Byrd acknowledged using HGH after the San Francisco Chronicle reported he spent nearly $25,000 on the drug and syringes from 2002-05 – before HGH was banned by Major League Baseball. Girardi starts Yankees interviews Indians are still hurting Around the leagues Royals: Trey Hillman is one of the few big league managers who has never coached or played in the majors. Will that matter? “It all depends on what you believe is major league baseball,” the new Kansas City skipper said, somewhat defensively. “In my humble opinion, I’ve been a major league manager for the last five years. We get after it in Japan.” After being introduced as the Royals’ 15th full-time manager, Hillman got ready to return to Japan to manage the Nippon Ham Fighters in their defense of Japan’s World Series championship. Red Sox: Boston is a 2-1 favorite to win the World Series and end the magical run of the Rockies. “Colorado is a real Cinderella story,” said Jay Kornegay, director of the sports book at the Las Vegas Hilton. “We’re just not sure when it’s going to strike midnight.” Las Vegas oddsmakers put the Red Sox at minus-$2, meaning every $2 bet will win $1 if Boston wins. Colorado is plus $1.70, meaning every $1 wins $1.70 if the Rockies take the Series. Rockies: Team officials said their computer system for online-only World Series ticket sales was the target of an “external malicious attack” that required a temporary suspension of ticket sales. The team said they have a backup plan that will allow online ticket sales to resume at noon today. Mariners: Seattle overhauled its coaching staff, hiring Mel Stottlemyre, Jim Riggleman and Norm Charlton. Stottlemyre, a former pitching coach with the Yankees and Mets, took the same position in Seattle. Riggleman, an ex-manager in the majors, will be the bench coach. Charlton, who spent 13 seasons as a relief pitcher in the big leagues, is the bullpen coach. Braves: Cardinals executive Bruce Manno was hired as assistant general manager of the Atlanta Braves in Frank Wren’s first move as GM since taking over after John Schuerholz stepped aside. Miscellany: Major League Baseball and Fox Sports executives don’t have to wonder about the ratings a World Series between small-market teams from Cleveland and Colorado would have drawn. Instead, they can bask in strong viewership numbers for the ALCS won by the Red Sox. Sunday’s Game 7 drew an 11.7 rating, which was 8 percent better than the 10.8 earned by last year’s NLCS Game 7 between the Cardinals and Mets. It was the highest-rated LCS game since 2004. The series attracted an average 7.4 rating, a 37 percent increase over the 5.4 for the four-game sweep by the Tigers of the A’s in last year’s ALCS.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! From news services Tony La Russa tended to his many pets on the West Coast for a week or so, and made up his mind. He wanted to keep managing. Now, he’s hoping the St. Louis Cardinals can make an equally quick decision on hiring a general manager. La Russa agreed Monday to a two-year contract to stay in St. Louis, confident the Cardinals can still be contenders. Whether he ever works out his rift with Scott Rolen, that remains to be seen.