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Tony La Russa said effort was the main theme of his first talk to Arizona Diamondbacks players in his new role as the team’s chief baseball officer.

“It was just a real brief effort to tell them what I hope to contribute,” he said of his meeting with players before their home game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday.

Headed to the Hall of Fame this year for his success as a manager, La Russa said he told players that competition doesn’t start with talent, but with the level of effort.

He said he has seen the team show its character by playing hard through the tough times, but wanted to drive the point home.

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“The one message is that there’s never an excuse to back off the effort,” La Russa said. “If times are tough, you can’t back off it. If times are good, you don’t back off and take it for granted. You just remind them who’s watching. Your fans are watching.”

In an informal half-hour session with reporters on Sunday, La Russa said he doesn’t mind if Arizona players are “looking over their shoulder” wondering about their future, because that kind of pressure is a good thing.

“Anything that disturbs your comfort factor is good for you,” he said.


• The Washington Nationals placed Gio Gonzalez on the 15-day disabled list because of inflammation in his pitching shoulder. The 28-year-old left-hander had an MRI exam on Sunday that Nationals manager Matt Williams said showed “no structural damage.”

• The Colorado Rockies turned a triple play against the San Diego Padres, the third in team history. In the third inning Sunday, third baseman Nolan Arenado fielded a grounder by Carlos Quentin and stepped on the bag. He threw to second baseman D.J. LeMahieu, who relayed the ball on to first for the team’s first triple play since 2007.

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