La Russa mum on Mariners

ST. LOUIS -- Tony La Russa had little to say Wednesday about speculation he will leave St. Louis after a dozen seasons to manage Seattle next season.

"No reaction," La Russa said.

"Nothing to it?" La Russa was asked.

"I don't think so," he responded.

Last year's World Series champions faded in September and have little hope of making the postseason.

"I just want us to finish strong, that's the No. 1 thing," La Russa said. "We've been finishing strong in effort, I just want us to finish strong and get enough wins to where we have a good taste."

There has been speculation that La Russa and general manager Walt Jocketty might leave after the season for the Cincinnati Reds or the Mariners.

• Yankees slugger Jason Giambi was out of the starting lineup and an MRI exam of his bruised right foot came back negative.

Giambi was hit by a pitch from Baltimore's Daniel Cabrera in the second inning of New York's 8-5 win Monday. The designated hitter stayed in but was lifted for a pinch runner in the eighth after his third walk of the game.

Manager Joe Torre said he was going to start Giambi at first base Tuesday but the foot was still bothering him.

• Jeff Bennett, who last pitched in the major leagues in 2004 for Milwaukee, will face the Brewers today when he makes his first start for Atlanta.

The 27-year-old right-hander was 1-5 with a 4.79 ERA for Milwaukee in 2004, pitched at Nashville in 2005, then had elbow ligament-replacement surgery on Feb. 28 last year. He signed with the Braves as a minor league free agent on Nov. 13 and went 3-5 with a 3.35 ERA in six starts and 30 relief appearances this season at Triple-A Richmond.

Atlanta also recalled outfielder Brandon Jones and relief pitcher Joey Devine from Richmond. To clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Bennett, pitcher Kevin Barry was designated for assignment.

• Barry Bonds said the man who bought his 756th home run ball and announced plans to let the public decide its fate is an "idiot."

Fashion designer Marc Ecko had the winning bid Saturday in the online auction for the ball that Bonds hit last month to break Hank Aaron's record of 755 home runs. The final selling price was $752,467, well above most predictions.

Ecko, 35, has set up a Web site that lets visitors vote on three options for the ball: give it to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, brand it with an asterisk before sending it to Cooperstown or blast it into space on a rocket ship.

• NBA -- A Madison Square Garden executive was ready to quit her high-salaried position -- and was nearly fired over her inability to handle work responsibilities -- in the months before she sued New York Knicks coach Isiah Thomas for sexual harassment, a top MSG official testified.

Steve Mills, MSG Sports president and CEO, was the first witness called as Thomas and MSG opened their defense in federal court against the charges made in a $10 million lawsuit by Anucha Browne Sanders.