Originally posted on Fox Sports Midwest  |  Last updated 11/16/11
ST. LOUIS - His friend and third base coach Jose Oquendo is coming back. So is hitting coach Mark McGwire. The question is, will Albert Pujols be back with the St. Louis Cardinals next season? The Cardinals announced new manager Mike Matheny's coaching staff for 2012 late Wednesday afternoon and it looks very similar to the one Pujols has had during his 11 years in St. Louis. Returning in the same roles in 2012 will be Oquendo, McGwire, pitching coach Dave Duncan and bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist. Assistant hitting coach Mike Aldrete was promoted to bench coach while the only outside addition was Triple-A Memphis manager Chris Maloney, who takes over as first base coach. Out are longtime coaches Dave McKay and Joe Pettini. McKay served as first base coach for all 16 years that manager Tony La Russa was in St. Louis. McKay served as the bench coach the past 10 seasons. The Cardinals announced that both McKay and Pettini will remain within the organization and assist with Baseball Operations. Some wondered whether or not Oquendo would decide to return after he interviewed for the managerial position but was passed over in favor of Matheny. Oquendo has long been a close friend of Pujols, who is currently a free agent. The Cardinals hope to re-sign Pujols, who recently received a reported nine-year contract offer from the Florida Marlins. And bringing back Oquendo certainly won't hurt their chances. The return of Mark McGwire and Mike Aldrete won't hurt the Cardinals chances of bringing Pujols back either. Aldrete and Pujols enjoy a good relationship with Aldrete routinely tossing balls to Pujols in the batting cage before the slugger would come out to hit on the field. The amount of dollars and years a team offers will likely have more to do with where Pujols signs over anything else. But the familiarity he has with the Cardinals coaching staff next season will be an added bonus on their side. The Cardinals could look to add someone for the assistant hitting coach position held by Aldrete in recent years in the future.
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