Tony La Russa will return to manage the Chicago White Sox for the 2022 season, a source told ESPN on Thursday.
White Sox stars Tim Anderson and Jose Abreu had both publicly lobbied for the 77-year-old La Russa to return this week after Chicago was eliminated by the Houston Astros in Game 4 of the American League Division Series.
“I want him to be back,” Anderson said Thursday. “At the end of the day, my decision doesn’t really matter. I guess it all depends on what the front office thinks. … I definitely want him in. I think he did a great job with the way he managed and just being open.”
On Wednesday, Abreu had said he “was pretty sure” La Russa would return.
“He won’t leave us alone. He’s going to be with us,” Abreu said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Abreu also said he appreciated La Russa’s postgame comments in which he said Abreu was hit “intentionally” by Astros reliever Kendall Graveman in the bottom of the eighth inning in Game 4.
“It was a natural reaction. That’s the kind of reaction that I would have if something happened to one of my children,” Abreu told reporters, according to MLB.com. “Tony was trying to protect me, and he’s always trying to protect us.”
La Russa’s future was a bit of a question after the White Sox’s season ended Tuesday. He said afterward it’s up to management first and then the players. If they want him back, then “you check and see whether you got the desire to continue to manage, so I do,” he said.
Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf lured La Russa to Chicago out of retirement for a second stint with the franchise that gave him his first major league managing job, hoping the three-time World Series winner could lead a team stacked with stars to a deep October run.
La Russa hadn’t filled out a lineup card since he led the St. Louis Cardinals to the World Series championship in 2011, and there were questions about how his old-school ways would mesh with the team’s young and vibrant stars such as Anderson.
“Everybody thought we weren’t going to get along,” said Anderson, who made his first All-Star team this season. “But overall, we were talking behind the scenes the whole time. Just for him, the players come first and he makes that known. We’re one big family.”
La Russa had a public disagreement with a couple of his players after he scolded Yermin Mercedes for homering on a 3-0 pitch during the ninth inning of a 16-4 victory over Minnesota in May.
But with one of the top lineups and pitching staffs in baseball, the White Sox rolled to a 93-69 record and beat Cleveland by 13 games in the AL Central for their first division championship in 13 years. The win total was their highest since the 2005 World Series championship team went 99-63.
La Russa passed John McGraw for second place on baseball’s all-time victories list behind Connie Mack while guiding the White Sox to their second straight playoff appearance. They had never made the postseason in back-to-back years. But after getting knocked out by the Oakland Athletics in the wild-card round in 2020, they failed again to advance and were beaten by Houston in convincing fashion.
“I think he did a great job, coming in and being a part of what we’ve been trying to do,” Anderson said. “I couldn’t be more happy than what he did. The relationship was great overall. Everybody was just getting along with him. I think he came in and did what he was supposed to do.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.