ST.LOUIS- The St. Louis Cardinals, fresh off their World Series loss, have dismissed their hitting coach because of an alcoholism problem, a newspaper reported Sunday.
Mitchell Page, the Cardinals’ hitting coach for 3 1/2 seasons, was informed of the team’s decision Thursday by general manager Walt Jocketty and manager Tony La Russa, according to STLtoday.com, the Web site of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Page is to enter an alcohol treatment facility this week near his home in Oakland, Calif., the Post-Dispatch reported.
Page said he declined a minor-league position with the club.
“I need help and I’m going to get it,” he said. “I’m going to take the heat and the blame and admit I’m an alcoholic. I screwed up.”
La Russa said Page’s relationship with some players had been affected by his substance abuse.
“It had gotten to where we were worried about him professionally,” La Russa said. “We made it work during the season, but it’s time to address it.”
FREE AGENTS: Cardinals shortstop Edgar Renteria filed for free agency Friday along with catcher Mike Matheny and outfielder Ray Lankford, two days after the Boston Red Sox swept St. Louis in the World Series.
Re-signing Renteria, 29, is expected to be one of the Cardinals’ top priorities. He batted .287 with 10 home runs and 72 RBIs this season, a drop-off from 2003 when he hit .330 with 100 RBIs.
La Russa and Jocketty have been told their 2005 budget will be the same as this year, about $85 million.
Matheny, 34, is widely considered among the best defensively at his position. He batted .247 with five home runs and 50 RBIs this year, but hit only .195 in the playoffs.
Lankford, 37, left the team a day after the Cardinals acquired Larry Walker from Colorado and accepted a minor league assignment to Triple-A Memphis nine days later. He batted .255 in 92 games with St. Louis this year.
The toughest part is keeping a team together after enjoying big success, especially with the same payroll.
"You start looking at how you're going to spend it,'' La Russa said.