Tony La Russa never has missed the managing part of baseball since retiring in 2011. He did miss the competition and, most particularly, the winning.
That's what drew him back to the big leagues.
Bolstering their front office, the Arizona Diamondbacks hired La Russa as their chief baseball officer on Saturday, hoping the Hall of Fame manager can help turn around the team after one of the worst starts in franchise history.
"It's the first day I woke up and I felt a difference," La Russa said. "Because for the first time since then you're back with an organization and at the end of the day you're going to be judged by how well your contribution is to the organization's competition. That's how I grew up."
La Russa last worked as a manager in 2011, walking away after leading the St. Louis Cardinals to their second World Series title with him at the helm.
He most recently worked for Major League Baseball as a special assistant to commissioner Bud Selig and was itching to get back into baseball on a day-to-day basis, appearing at Diamondbacks games a few times the past few weeks.
La Russa will report to Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall and oversee the entire baseball operations department. He will work with general manager Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson in shaping the future of the Diamondbacks, who were 16-28 heading into Saturday night's game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"The entire organization is obviously frustrated with the results on the field and we are looking to improve," Hall said. "Tony brings us a wealth of knowledge, experience and success, and will work closely with Kevin and Kirk in evaluating our current state to determine the future of our baseball operations. He is excited and enthusiastic about the challenge, and we are fortunate to have this Hall of Famer on board and a part of the team.
"It is going to take time, but I think having him here and helping us lead this department, it looks good for us. Any decisions that are going to be made personnel wise, he's going to have final say."
Before their game against Arizona on Saturday night, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said La Russa has a long history of success in the league.
"Tony's a good man and a good baseball man. I think if you're Arizona, you'd be excited," Mattingly said. "I don't mind competing, but you know with what Tony's done, with the White Sox, with Oakland, with St. Louis, you kind of know the way Tony goes about his business and his knowledge of the game that it's going to be a good fit here."
Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire said he had an inkling La Russa wanted to return to work with a team.
"He's very successful at what he does," he said. "He's a great evaluator and a great baseball guy."
La Russa won three World Series titles and six league championships and was a four-time manager of the year in 33 seasons before retiring in 2011. He will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in July and is third with 2,728 wins as a manager and second with 70 postseason wins.