Tony La Russa’s sudden pregame departure no clearer afterward

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.

in other news

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.

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.

Take a second to support Sox Machine on Patreon
Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

Articles: 3699
42 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
tommytwonines

Hopefully Tony’s okay.

That Giolito comment seems to indicate more than just the weight-gain/conditioning element. I hope someone follows up on the “experimenting”. On Garfien’s podcast he mentioned his Covid issues this year and he thinks he had ANOTHER virus just after Covid that affected him even more. Rough year all around.

sinkerball

Speaking as someone who had a fairly serious viral infection about three decades ago I am inclined to think that lingering covid (or whatever we are calling it now) could be affecting several of the Sox players. From what I read Robert got some treatment for this re his dizziness but mainstream medicine often does not take the post-viral symptoms seriously. Did or could the WSox push on this? My guess is not.

BenwithVen

Fegan’s comments on the FutureSox podcast yesterday about how exhausted TLR looks after every game seems prescient. Stress can affect the body in some really severe ways, especially for someone his age. Hopefully, he’ll be ok

jhomeslice

People Tony’s age are supposed to be tired, geez. I’ve had family members in nursing homes younger than him. Perhaps this is why nobody his age has managed a full season in almost 100 years?

I wish him well but this does not change how ridiculous it was to hire him in the first place.

OldMMJ87

At some point earlier in the season, Tony’s phone went off during a post-game press conference and he said it was his daughter who was worried about the impact these close games were having on his health. I’m not sure if he’s had other health issues, but I hope he winds up being ok.

Hulksmash

Well, if she’s worried about the stakes in White Sox games being too high, she can rest assured Tony has seen to fixing that problem.

To Err is Herrmann

Shane McClanahan sounds like the name of a 1970s TV detective.

BenwithVen

Well, McClanahan little Billy’s DEAD!….

metasox

I have high hopes for Cannon

Red_Hair_White_Sox

Yesterday afternoon I informed my season ticket rep that I would not be attending any games next season if Tony was retained.

This is the only thing that could explain this

calcetinesblancos

Money does indeed talk.

gibby32

Your rep does not care whether or not you attend. He/she wants to know if you will purchase season tickets.

Shingos Cheeseburgers

I’m really glad that the White Sox are using their fleeting moment of relevancy to expose the broader baseball public to the weirdness that only us die hards got to experience 2012-2020.

Greg Nix

I think the press release/jumbotron announcement were likely specifically to deflect speculation that they fired TLR. I can imagine a firestorm on social media without it.

As Cirensica

That will be equivalent to the recognition they have a problem with TLR. They see the white elephant, but they won’t do anything about it.

OldMMJ87

Yea, that makes sense now that I think about it. I could see a scenario where Tony had tests or something done and the doctors just found out the results, I hope everything is ok.

calcetinesblancos

This is just another reason that Tony shouldn’t have this job.

Yolmer's gatorade

I’m pro Fire Tony, but I hope he’s OK. I don’t think the Sox are cynical enough to fake this, but it would definitely help solve a problem.

calcetinesblancos

I think this is a ruse to make us feel guilty about wanting him gone. I don’t want him managing my baseball team; I never said I wanted him hurt or dead!

Augusto Barojas

LOL I thought the same. I wanted him fired, not murdered.

LamarHoyt_oncrack

Putin, now there’s a guy I could be talked into wanting murdered.

Yolmer's gatorade

I thought I’ve heard Josh or Jim talk about a scenario where TLR moves into a Special Assistant role for health reasons after this season. Who knows though? Maybe this turns into L’Affaire La Russa.

dwjm3

If Jerry was this clever, he wouldn’t be so inept at running the team.

sinkerball

I read somewhere that TLR was ‘grooming’ both Cairo and McEwing to be MLB managers. That erases any guilt that I might feel about Tony’s ill health.

BenwithVen

Well, LaRussa out indefinitely per Nightengale. He’s undergoing testing in Arizona.

jorgefabregas

Our guy is definitely going to test Arizona-positive. He is a quintessential Arizonan.

As Cirensica

He is seeing a heart specialist. I really wish him the best, and that this is nothing but a wake up call. Managing a MLB team is demanding. He should retire. Fish. Golf. I don’t know.

Augusto Barojas

That’s why it’s not a good idea for anybody near 80 to have a super high stress job like MLB manager, or President of the United States. Stress levels not exactly conducive to health.

Needless to say I hope Tony is ok. But if it’s his last game managing, good riddance, too. Now God knows who they will get to replace him. Can’t wait for that announcement.

a-t

I hope he’s not dying or has other such serious condition. But based on the current info it seems pretty likely that he’s not going to return for the rest of this season, and also that he may re-retire for health reasons.

HallofFrank

Yeah. Hope he’s okay. In the game thread last night I put the chances that we’ve already seen TLR’s last game with the Sox at 3-5%. I think I’d bump that up to like 30-40% now.

a-t

I’d double the latter numbers with the news that it’s a heart concern

BenwithVen

If it’s due some sort of cardiac distress or (god forbid) a stroke, I don’t see how he comes back next season.

OldMMJ87

I think this goes without saying, I really hope Tony is OK. I hope there is nothing wrong with him and he can come back and live a long, healthy and happy life. I also hope he doesn’t manage the White Sox anymore.

a-t

Tony’s seeing heart specialists per Nightengale. I remember seeing that TLR’s daughter expressed concern for his heart due to so many close, tense games. Hard to imagine that he returns this year, and I have to imagine that his family will not want him returning to the dugout next year.

dwjm3

Yup, I think he is done coaching here

ParisSox

Did the job worsen his condition? We may never know but this hiring was a mistake all around.

Last edited 23 days ago by ParisSox
dwjm3

I doubt we will ever know. This is truly Jerry’s masterpiece of stupidity bringing this guy out of retirement. He is leaving diminished physically and professionally.

mrridgman

Yeah he had solid credentials (earned or not) on his resume in his first retirement. 2021 and 22 will not be the star on top of his tree.

Augusto Barojas

Witnesses claim that Leury Garcia seemed unusually upset by this news.

calcetinesblancos

They better not go on a winning streak; that would be disrespectful to Tony.

shaggy65

My doctors have also advised me to stop watching White Sox games

steelydan52

Been a Sox diehard fan for 64 years and a LONG time reader but have only commented a couple times. Not a LaRussa hater but one that knows it’s time for him to enjoy the rest of his life.
I look at the picture Jim posted and you can see that Tony is just drifting. I have the same look from time to time. It’s like he’s saying “Why the hell did I do this?”
I wish him well like a lot of you and with good health. There’s no way Jerry lets Tony go through this again.
We’re not going to get a new owner but maybe Jerry will turn the team over to his son. He’s done alright with the Bulls. No more bullheaded loyalty. Time to move the chains, Jerry.
I can’t, for the life of me, NOT be a Sox fan. I will root for them until my dying day but it’s very obvious something has to be done. This team…………hell, I don’t know what I want to say. I just hope when they do get a new manager it’s not Konerko and that it’s not Hahn and Williams doing the picking. Let’s go with Bochy if he’s willing.