MLB Rumors: White Sox Manager Tony La Russa Expected to Announce Retirement on Monday | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats, and Rumors
Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa will reportedly announce his retirement on Monday, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
La Russa was planning to remain with the organization through 2023, but the strategy has changed after heart issues has kept him away from the team.
Chicago entered Sunday with a 78-80 record, good for second in the American League Central but not enough to compete for a playoff spot. It was a mark befitting a team that rarely strayed too far from mediocrity.
For La Russa, it didn’t help that the team’s performance improved once Miguel Cairo took over as interim manager.
The White Sox announced Aug. 30 that La Russa would miss what proved to be a 9-7 loss to the Kansas City Royals for health reasons. They followed up one day later to say his absence would be extended indefinitely, and Cairo continued to lead the squad as a result.
Chicago’s uptick confirmed what many already believed: The franchise was going backward under La Russa’s watch.
Whatever goodwill the Hall of Famer established from helping Chicago win 93 games and claim a division crown in 2021 evaporated. Granted, there may not have been much goodwill to begin with.
The White Sox’s decision to hire him in the first place was met with a lot of skepticism. The 77-year-old hadn’t managed since 2011, and the game had changed a lot during the intervening years.
Beyond whether he could adjust to MLB’s strategic trends and increased reliance on advanced metrics, the Yermin Mercedes saga almost immediately raised questions about his suitability within the clubhouse.
Late in a blowout victory over the Minnesota Twins in May 2021, the 29-year-old teed off on a 3-0 pitch from Willians Astudillo, who had been deputized as a pitcher with the score so one-sided. La Russa threw the hitter under the bus after the game rather than deflect any criticism away from his player, who was perceived to have run afoul of the unwritten rules.
The story eventually blew over, and there was plenty to celebrate as the White Sox returned to the postseason for the first time in a full 162-game season since 2008.
Still, the pace with which public opinion in the Windy City irrevocably turned against La Russa showed how little equity he carried over from the year before. By mid-June, he was drawing boos and calls for his ouster from the home fans.
It’s difficult to list all of the puzzling tactical choices La Russa made this season, but here’s a short summary.
In the sixth inning, he called for Trea Turner to be intentionally walked despite the player facing a 1-2 count. While that set up a lefty vs. lefty matchup for Max Muncy, the L.A. infielder proceeded to hit a three-run home run.
As baffling as the decision was, La Russa’s postgame defense of the maneuver may been equally as maddening.
La Russa repeated the move in a 5-2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians on Aug. 19.
His pitcher usage in an 8-6 loss to the Texas Rangers in 12 innings on June 12 raised some eyebrows. He threw out rookie reliever Tanner Banks and appeared to be readying Dylan Cease for a possible relief opportunity only three days removed from a 110-pitch outing.
Matthew Pouliot @matthewpouliot
The White Sox burned Monday’s starter because today’s starter got hurt in the first. They burned out the rest of their pen because their ace closer is hurt but still on the roster. And they lost after Robert tagged up to go to third when his run meant absolutely nothing. Ouch.
La Russa said Cease was merely working out for his next start.
By mid-July, even the White Sox home broadcasters were at a loss to describe La Russa’s on-field decisions at times.
A month later, the manager stood idly by as a visibly injured Luis Robert was reduced to swinging with one arm in an 11th-inning at-bat in a 4-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.
Daryl Van Schouwen @CST_soxvan
TLR on Robert: “Have to be concerned about him getting hurt having a swing like that, maybe have to rethink that.”<br>Didn’t replace him, citing 107 mph double play ball and 370 foot fly to CF<br>”No, because when you see him for 3 days, when he gets one on the nose he still belts it”
It all added up to somebody who was out of his depth.
Judging a manager based on his team’s performance can be tricky because there’s a limit to which his input impacts a game. In the case of La Russa, it at least became increasingly difficult to believe he was making the White Sox better.
As much as a managerial change will be welcomed in Chicago, it may not be a panacea because Jerry Reinsdorf remains in charge.
Although the White Sox aren’t dealing with the sort of rampant internal dysfunction that inevitably bleeds on to the field, the process that led to La Russa’s hiring speaks to something that’s fundamentally broken at the top.
David Haugh @DavidHaugh
It’ll never happen but <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/WhiteSox?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#WhiteSox</a> fans deserve to hear Jerry Reinsdorf explain or defend why he believes Tony LaRussa is the manager capable of leading this team to the World Series that remains the goal. It’s that bad, yes. It’s that indefensible given the way this devolved.
The team owner had a promising young roster that gave Chicago its best shot at contending in years, and he entrusted the clubhouse to a retired manager who was clearly a poor fit at the outset.
Even with the failed experiment with the White Sox, La Russa will still be recognized as one of the best managers of his generation. The Hall of Famer won three World Series titles—two with the St. Louis Cardinals and one with the Oakland Athletics—and totaled six pennants. He was also named Managers of the Year four times in this career.
Though he returned after his previous retirement in 2011, it’s more likely this one is permanent.