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La Russa takes over D-backs' baseball operations

ST. LOUIS -- Tony La Russa delivered the commencement address at Washington University on Friday to students who are about to enter the workforce.

One day later, the 69-year-old La Russa had a new job of his own.

La Russa, who will be inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame in July, was hired as chief baseball officer of the Arizona Diamondbacks. He will report directly to team president and CEO Derrick Hall and oversee the entire baseball operations department.

The D-backs had a 16-28 record when La Russa was announced, the worst start in franchise history since their inaugural season in 1998.

Mike Matheny, who succeeded La Russa as St. Louis' manager after La Russa retired at the end of the 2011 season, feels that Arizona got a special person for the job.

"I had a chance to talk to him [Friday] before the game a little bit and he kind of hinted [about the new position] but didn't want to tip his hand," Matheny said. "I'm happy for him and not surprised. I knew the game would have a lot of opportunities for him. He'll do a great job wherever he goes. I know the Diamondbacks are going to be happy with what they've got."

The D-backs who had the worst run differential of any team in baseball, started the "La Russa regime" with an 18-7 victory over the Dodgers on Saturday night. In the process, they scored seven runs in the second inning off Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw.

Arizona visits St. Louis for a three-game series starting Tuesday night.

Alex Halsted is an associate reporter for Bill Hester is a contributor to
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