ST. LOUIS -- A day after Jim Edmonds' surprise offer to play for the Cardinals for the Major League minimum salary, two things were clear. One, Edmonds is serious. Two, the Cardinals are intrigued but hesitant.

On Sunday night at an annual benefit for manager Tony La Russa's Animal Rescue Foundation, Edmonds "challenged" La Russa to let him return to the Cardinals in 2010, playing for the minimum. La Russa appeared flustered by the offer and joked that he wished he could have rewound and avoided his decision to invite Edmonds on stage.

On Monday, Edmonds' former teammates said they were sure he was serious about wanting to return. Edmonds hasn't played in the Majors since 2008, when he split the season between San Diego and Chicago. From 2000-07, he was a core member of the Cardinals.

"What I told him was, I had not figured on this development," La Russa said. "Out of respect, we'll have a serious discussion about it. But he hasn't played in a year. There's a lot of obstacles there. But we'll talk about it."

Adam Wainwright, who starred as a rookie reliever when Edmonds helped lead the Cards to a 2006 World Series championship, said he would welcome the return of his former teammate -- if Edmonds can contribute between the lines.

"He's ready to play," Wainwright said. "I love his presence in the clubhouse. I love him being in our dugout. He brings a lot of fun to the team. If he's still got it, it would be awesome. If he doesn't still have it, it wouldn't be that great."

Slugger Albert Pujols likewise expressed enthusiasm for the possibility.

"It would be great having him back, but I don't make that decision," Pujols said. "I think you need to talk to Tony and [general manager John Mozeliak]. If he's in good spirits to come back, good shape, I think we definitely can use his help in the lineup."