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Culture drew Tony La Russa to Arizona Diamondbacks

LISTEN: Tony La Russa, D-backs Chief Baseball Officer

It’s not every day when a baseball organization can just go out and hire a Hall of Famer who’s got six league championships, three World Series rings and four league Manager of the Year Awards on his résumé.

But the Arizona Diamondbacks did just that Saturday, hiring Tony La Russa as their new Chief Baseball Officer.

La Russa says there is something special about the D-backs that helped draw him back to the day-to-day operations of a team.

“They’ve got several assets, one of them is the organization,” La Russa told Doug and Wolf Monday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “You know, I’ve been a little cocoon in either Oakland or St. Louis, but once you get out, like the last couple years, you realize that the organization is well-regarded.

“You take the top handful organizations in baseball and the Diamondbacks are right there.”

La Russa, who managed the Cardinals to a World Series title in 2011 in his final season, feels the Diamondbacks are a perfect fit for what he has to offer.

“Another thing that made it attractive was that they were talking about the type of responsibility I hoped would be available,” he said. “I’ve actually talked to several teams, but it was never right.”

While the culture of the organization is widely regarded as a plus, the reality is the Diamondbacks are 18-28 and in last place in the National League West as they begin a six-game road trip in St. Louis Tuesday.

But La Russa doesn’t foresee coming in with guns blazing and making sweeping immediate changes because of the team’s on-field performance.

“You can’t come in here and say you have an answer if you don’t have it. I’ve started to evaluate, but I think the other thing to consider is this is organization-wide, wherever you compete,” he said. “I’m going to learn who’s teaching what in the minor leagues, who are we teaching it to, what are players look like. I expect to learn what our drafting philosophy is and then you go from there.

“I’m not afraid to make tough decisions, but I’m more afraid of is making a decision that’s wrong and you’re making it for the wrong reasons, like the organization has to prove that we’re determined to change this around. I think what we’ve got to prove is to figure out where we can help and provide the help and the improvement comes from there.”