McGwire was the subject of steroid rumors during his assault on Roger Maris' single-season home run record -- and admitted to using a chemical supplement called androstenedione that is available over the counter at health stores -- but La Russa told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he is convinced that McGwire did not use performance-enhancing chemicals to build his huge physique.
"I knew Mark his entire career. And I know the amount of work and training he put into developing himself," La Russa said. "To me, there's never been a question."
The upcoming amateur draft is being met with some excitement in Oakland -- where the Athletics have seven picks in the first two rounds -- but there is a general feeling that the pickings are a lot slimmer than last year.
The Cincinnati Reds have the third pick and don't seem all that thrilled about it, since the talent at the top of the draft might not be worth the price that the top picks could command.
One unnamed club official told MLB.com: "If this was the NFL, we'd be trying to trade down."
Could go either way
The Cleveland Indians have entered a critical month that might determine whether general manager Mark Shapiro decides to embark on an extensive long-term rebuilding project.
Things, obviously, have not gone well for a team he hoped would have a better balance of pitching and offense. The Indians have regressed from a hot start to fall below .500 and face several imposing opponents in June.
"We have two different plans right now -- one to strengthen the club and one to start a more radical rebuilding process," Shapiro said.
If the club chooses to throw in the towel on 2002, trades involving slugger Jim Thome and pitching ace Bartolo Colon might not be out of the question.
Could anyone be better?
Diamondbacks pitcher Curt Schilling became baseball's first 10-game winner a week earlier this year than last, and now has a 21-2 record in his last 27 starts (including last year's postseason). Wonder what Glenn Davis is doing these days.
The Colorado Rockies had a 21-9 record in their first 30 games under new manager Clint Hurdle. That ties the best 30-game stretch in franchise history.
Compiled from interviews, wire services and reports from other newspapers.