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The White Sox seldom conduct themselves like a normal, rational team when hiring and firing managers, so when the Sox announced shortly before Tuesday’s game that Tony La Russa would be absent “at the direction of his doctors,” wondering about ulterior motives felt as pragmatic as it did tasteless. We’ve been trained to have our heads on swivels.
La Russa and other White Sox managers have missed games before due to a variety of reasons without press releases and video board announcements, and La Russa had been at the park conducting business as usual in the hours before the change of plans, so the shift carried an unusual air about it.
But no available White Sox personnel had any details after the game. In fact, Lucas Giolito and Gavin Sheets said they found out about it the way everybody else did:
“I didn’t know much about it until I saw it on the scoreboard when I went out there,” said starter Lucas Giolito, referencing the announcement that was posted on the Guaranteed Rate Field video screen.
“Just social media,” outfielder Gavin Sheets said of how he found out. “We are going out there ready to play a game. It doesn’t change our preparation or anything. We wanted to get a win for Miggy.”
It’s strange that the White Sox wouldn’t announce this news to the White Sox before letting the public in on it, but the suddenness, sensitivity and gravity of the situation might have made any messaging plan imperfect. The potential seriousness of the news makes any further speculation unwise.
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Given how long Lucas Giolito has been struggling, you wouldn’t expect him to have any answers for struggles that carried through another ragged start on Tuesday night, but I’m curious what this means, if anything:
“I feel a little bit stronger. A little bit healthier just in general. And I feel like I let go of some of the frustration. A little bit too much experimenting coming into the season and early on. So, it’s back to basics. I’m just going to try to control what I can control. That’s my preparation, and when I’m out there, it’s trusting my stuff and being confident, and that’s it.”
The White Sox’s former director of strength and conditioning doesn’t sound bitter about the White Sox letting him go following the 2021 season, but he probably can feel validated about the quality of his work while monitoring the Sox this season. He said that he hadn’t heard of a non-hustle directive before, and that the lack of offseason contact with players who are risks of suffering repeat injuries due to the lockout could be part of it.
- Justin Verlander says he ‘dodged a bullet,’ placed on 15-day IL with calf injury — AP
- Shane McClanahan skips start due to shoulder impingement — Tampa Bay Times
Dylan Cease’s two closest competitors in the AL Cy Young race are both missing time, although neither injury is expected to be serious.
With starters going shorter but the number of relievers capped by roster and option limits, teams are wrestling with how to manage fatigue. The White Sox are ninth in baseball in appearances on back-to-back days with 74, but they’ve only had one pitcher work on three consecutive days, which reflects their limit.