COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Tony La Russa toured the Baseball Hall of Fame on Thursday in preparation for his July 27 induction, and said he was awestruck as he was surrounded by statues of the game's greats.
The Tampa native, 69, the third-winningest MLB manager in history, was unanimously elected in December by the Hall of Fame's expansion-era committee along with former managerial colleagues Bobby Cox and Joe Torre. Cox and Torre are fourth and fifth all time in managerial victories.
Pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine and slugger Frank Thomas were elected on the writers' ballot.
"I'm looking at Babe Ruth over there, and I look over here and there's Ted Williams. There's Tony La Russa. You've got to be kidding," said the Jefferson High and USF graduate. "It's really difficult because this is an overwhelming place, especially when you go see the archives."
He made sure to look at the plaques honoring the managers he trails in victories, Connie Mack and John McGraw. "They didn't acknowledge me when I walked by," La Russa said with a smile.
Of the 2014 class, La Russa said: "It's absolutely perfect."
Athletics: The team will turn to a closer-by-committee strategy for now to give struggling RH Jim Johnson a chance to get back on track.
Braves: SS Andrelton Simmons is day to day with a jammed right wrist. Ramiro Pena started Thursday.
Marlins: The club tied a team record by striking out 17 times Thursday. Of its final 14 outs, 12 were strikeouts.
Pirates: Top pitching prospect Jameson Taillon had Tommy John surgery on his right (throwing) elbow Wednesday. He is expected to miss 12 to 18 months. … Manager Clint Hurdle came out of the dugout to discuss a call at the plate Thursday, but he chose not to challenge and would not say why. "If I give you any other answer, we got 10 more questions," Hurdle said.
Rangers: 3B Adrian Beltre is out with a mild left quadriceps strain. The team will wait through the weekend to see if he can avoid the disabled list.
Twins: Prized CF prospect Byron Buxton likely won't play until May because of a wrist injury. … Thursday's 20,650 was the smallest crowd since Target Field opened in 2010. The previous low of 21,826 was set Sept. 9.
White Sox: OF Avisail Garcia will miss the rest of the season after sustaining a tear in his left shoulder while trying to make a diving catch Wednesday. Surgery is scheduled next week.
Diversity push: Former major-league player and manager Jerry Manuel is taking on an increased role with Major League Baseball's on-field diversity task force. He will oversee the group's day-to-day efforts. MLB has been concerned about the declining number at all levels of minority players, particularly African-Americans. Among other initiatives, baseball wants to work with current and former big leaguers who could be coaches and youth leaders in urban communities.