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D-backs’ players laud hiring of ‘one of the best baseball minds’ in Tony La Russa

A move was inevitable.

That it was an addition and not a subtraction from the third-worst team (18-28) in Major League Baseball might have come as a bit of a surprise.

And that it involved the Arizona Diamondbacks creating the position, Chief Baseball Officer, for the organizational outsider might have been even more shocking.

Then again, Tony La Russa isn’t just another baseball hire.

A soon-to-be Hall of Fame manager and three-time World Champion, La Russa’s 33 years in the dugout with the Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals from 1979-2011 makes him an instant upgrade to a franchise struggling to stay afloat in 2014.

And though he had yet to meet with the 25-man roster when it was first able to address his hiring, La Russa’s arrival was met with plenty of enthusiasm.

“He’s one of the best baseball minds to ever be in this game,” D-backs third baseman Eric Chavez said Saturday. “When you add something like that it can only help.”

Arizona could use plenty of help, as it has won just six home games and sits a 10.5 games out of first place in the National League West.

Still, it’s unclear what impact La Russa, who is expected to oversee the D-backs’ operations department, will have on potential changes as it pertains to the future status of the team’s current manager and general manager.

“It seems like a positive addition to what we’re doing,” D-backs outfielder Mark Trumbo said. “If it’s going to shake things up a little bit, then that’s what will happen. We will see how it plays out in the coming weeks. It’ll be pretty easy to tell what’s going on. We’re excited to have him and what he brings to the table — the knowledge and the track record.”

It’s a track record that not only features World Series titles in both leagues, but six league championships and 12 divisional titles.

On paper, the hire seems to make perfect sense. Although, D-backs starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy admitted that it’s hard to gauge how much the move will impact the players — seeing as La Russa is moving from the clubhouse to the front office.

“I would assume it’s a great thing,” said McCarthy. “The more people you can bring into an organization the better. I don’t know how far [the move] extends to the clubhouse.

“It’s not a day-to-day coaching job. It’s not a managerial job. If it’s more on top and something you don’t see very often, then it’s hard to say from a players perspective.”

Whether La Russa can change the D-backs’ fortunes this season — be it from a personnel or standings perspective — remains to be seen.

But as Chavez astutely noted, at the end of the day it’s not up to the La Russa to right the ship.

That responsibility lies with the players.

“We’ve just got to concentrate on baseball,” said Chavez. “Whatever moves are made, you can’t let it affect you too much. We’ve got a job to do. We’ve got to play better, and let them deal with what they have to.”