Tuesday, March 28, 2023

White Sox manager Tony La Russa to announce retirement Monday, per reports

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White Sox manager Tony La Russa is expected to announce his retirement on Monday because of ongoing health concerns, per USA Today and the Chicago Sun-Times. La Russa, who turns 78 on Tuesday, stepped away from the team at the end of August on the advice of his doctors and underwent a procedure to repair his pacemaker. 

As USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale reported, subsequent concerns about La Russa’s heart health prompted his doctors to advise him to step away permanently from his high-stress duties as manager. La Russa had been under contract with the White Sox through the 2023 season. 

La Russa’s second tenure with the White Sox will end in disappointment. The Sox after the abbreviated 2020 season parted ways with then-manager Rick Renteria despite the fact that he guided him to their first postseason appearance since 2008. By all accounts, the surprising decision was forced by owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who then dictated the hiring of La Russa despite not having managed since 2011. La Russa originally managed the White Sox under Reinsdorf from 1979 until partway through the 1986 season. During that first tenure, La Russa led them to a 99-win season and a division title in 1983. 

La Russa’s second run with the White Sox yielded an American League Central title in 2021. However, the team’s winning percentage actually declined relative to Renteria’s final year in 2020, and the Sox, also as in 2020, were bounced from the postseason in the first round. Things got worse in 2022. Despite playing in the weakest division in baseball, the White Sox under La Russa weren’t able to overcome a rash of injuries. They spent just eight days in first place and none after April 20. The team initially saw better results under La Russa’s interim replacement, Miguel Cairo, but they weren’t able to catch the Cleveland Guardians, who surged down the stretch. 

La Russa, who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014, won two World Series titles with the St. Louis Cardinals and another with the Oakland A’s. He won the Manager of the Year award in his respective league four times and is second on the all-time managerial wins list behind only Connie Mack. La Russa’s second stint with the White Sox will be remembered as a curious and largely unsuccessful addendum to what is otherwise a stellar career in the dugout. 

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