NASHVILLE, Tenn. - St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa wants third baseman Scott Rolen back.

But only on the team's terms.

"He's got a contract to play, and we need him to play," La Russa said yesterday. "And he's going to be treated very honestly. If he plays hard and plays as well as he can, he plays. And if he doesn't, he can sit. If he doesn't like it, he can quit."

La Russa and Rolen have been feuding at least since the 2006 postseason, when Rolen was benched while struggling with a shoulder injury. The spat lingered last season, and La Russa said Rolen was the lone dissenting voice when the manager was deciding whether to return for another year.

"It was unanimous that everyone was for me except him," La Russa said. "It's gotten to the point where I don't care. What I care about is that he re-establish his stature as a major league productive star."

La Russa said the organization has gone out of its way to show Rolen respect, and "It's time for him to give back."

La Russa said that Rolen asked for a trade, and the Cardinals are exploring their options.

"I don't want to accommodate Scott," he said. "But somebody doesn't want to be part of the situation, you investigate it."

The Los Angeles Dodgers are among those interested.

"They can make their inquiries," La Russa said. "But the whole idea isn't to please Scott; it's to take care of the St. Louis Cardinals."

Rolen, a Phillie from 1996 to 2002, last season batted .265 with eight homers and 58 RBI. *