New manager not worried about La Russa’s shadow

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Berkman is beginning his second year with the Cardinals and thought the regimen had the same feel as last year under La Russa. That goes for the new leader’s unquestioned authority.

Mike is great, he’s got a great presence,” Berkman said. “He’s well-qualified to be a big league manager, there’s no doubt about it, and I think he’s going to do a great job. He already has the respect of every guy in here.”

Matheny led by example on Friday, throwing batting practice to Matt Holliday and others. He’ll delegate authority, but plans on being heavily involved with every aspect of the game, describing his style as a mix of CEO and micro manager.

“I want to have my eyes on everything, I always have,” Matheny said. “I love to watch it all. It’s not like I’m going to turn over the positioning of the infield and say `you’ve got it’ and it’s done. And I’ll know how we’re going to be pitching because I’m going to be involved in the game plan, running game, outfield positioning, bunt defenses.”

Matheny quickly anointed Jason Motte as his closer, declining to play La Russa-style mind games to keep the relievers on their toes.

What changes Matheny has made to the routine have been subtle. The compartmentalized two-page daily schedule is a carryover from the previous regime with separate listings for pitchers throwing bullpen sessions matched with specific catchers, and often with drills mixing veterans with prospects in an effort to promote organizational continuity.

He’s not afraid to ditch elements, either.

For the first several days, Matheny included an inspirational thought at the bottom of the page, but discontinued it before position players reported, deciding it might be read as self-promotion.

“I just don’t want to give the impression to these guys that this is a dog and pony show,” Matheny said. “Those quotes were not just kind of fluff, it was meant to be something to those guys, and if it starts being more than that then I’m being phony.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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