Tony La Russa will return as Cardinals Manager

St. Louis, MO (AP) - Tony La Russa is returning to the Cardinals as manager on a multiyear contract, sources told ESPN's Buster Olney, but there will be at least one change to his coaching staff.

Sources said Hal McRae, the team's hitting coach, has been fired -- and the leading candidate to replace him is Mark McGwire, the former Cardinals slugger.

The 65-year-old La Russa has been mulling his future since the NL Central champion Cardinals were swept in the division series by the Dodgers on Oct. 10. His two-year, $8.5 million contract expires at the end of the month.

"We're getting closer," La Russa, who has managed the team for 14 years, said earlier Sunday. "But nothing has been decided. I can't tell you anything yet."

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch quoted sources that believed a formal announcement that La Russa would be returning could be made early in the week.

Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. and general manager John Mozeliak have both said they'd like La Russa to return. He's led the Cardinals to eight postseason appearances and a 2006 World Series title, and he's third on the career victories list, trailing only Connie Mack and John McGraw.