Manager Tony La Russa will not return this season at the direction of his doctors, the Chicago White Sox announced Saturday.
“After undergoing additional testing and medical procedures over the past week, doctors for Tony La Russa have directed him to not return as manager of the Chicago White Sox for the remainder of the 2022 season,” the Sox said in a statement.
Added general manager Rick Hahn at Guaranteed Rate Field: “I did speak to him (Saturday) morning and he had no issue with us letting everybody know that there is a treatment protocol in place that he plans on adhering to. …
“As for the inevitable question, ‘Well, what does that mean for next season?’ We are going to finish up this season first and then address everything when it’s appropriate to turn the page at the end of this year.”
Bench coach Miguel Cairo will remain the acting manager for the rest of the season.
“I talked to him (Friday) night, he’s doing good,” Cairo said of La Russa. “First is health. That’s the most important right now.
“We’ve got a job to do — we’ve got to finish strong. I talked to the players (before Saturday’s game against the Detroit Tigers), I let them know and it’s 11 more games, let’s finish strong.”
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The Sox have been without La Russa, 77, since Aug. 30, when they announced less than an hour before a game against the Kansas City Royals that he would not manage that night. The next day the Sox said La Russa was out indefinitely and would undergo further testing with doctors in Arizona.
La Russa received clearance to attend a ceremony for former pitcher Dave Stewart on Sept. 11 in Oakland, Calif.
“Health ain’t nothing to mess with,” La Russa said before the event. “I got checked in Chicago and the reason I flew to Arizona is because that’s been the place since the ‘90s I’ve had physicals. They addressed it, they fixed it, now it’s just a question of regaining strength. Don’t mess with health.”
He told Janie McCauley of the Associated Press he had a pacemaker inserted for his heart.
La Russa flew to Chicago with the team after the A’s game and was in attendance for the next series against the Colorado Rockies, watching from a suite. He did not travel with the team for the ensuing trip to Cleveland and Detroit.
Asked if he had a sense if La Russa still wants to manage, Hahn said, “Right now the focus is on his health.”
La Russa is in the second season of his second stint with the Sox, who have hovered around .500 most of the season and are on the verge of missing the playoffs.
The Sox dropped their fifth consecutive game Saturday, losing 7-2 to the Tigers to fall back to .500 at 76-76. The Tigers broke the game open with a four-run seventh that included a three-run homer from Javier Báez.
The Sox are nine games behind the first-place Cleveland Guardians, whose magic number to clinch the American League Central is one.
La Russa is second all time among major-league managers in victories. The 2014 Hall of Fame inductee won World Series titles with the Oakland Athletics (1989) and St. Louis Cardinals (2006, 2011).
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“I learned so much, I’ve been learning so much, I’m still learning because every day you learn something else,” Cairo said. “I always double check with him. What he would do different in that situation and he’s very straightforward to me. Sometimes, ‘OK, I didn’t think about that.’ It’s a learning experience that I’m enjoying. I learn from the best, I’m learning from the best still.
“We reflect on games, reflecting on a move or reflecting on innings that happen. Of course when you lose you’re going to second-guess yourself on everything. When you win, sometimes you’re going to do stuff that’s out of the book and works and sometimes you go by the book and it don’t work. As long as you go with the information and your gut together, that balance, you’re going to give your players a chance to succeed.”
The Sox entered Saturday 13-10 since Cairo took over Aug. 30.
“(Cairo) and the coaches have done a very fine job,” Hahn said. “We’ve seen at various stretches, unfortunately not over the last four days (all four losses), but for extended stretches over the last few weeks, this team showing flashes of playing at the level we thought was capable over the course of the entire season. It’s a little too little too late over the course of the year. But I think those guys deserve a lot of credit for what was thrust upon them on the fly and the way they responded, both in the coaches room and in the clubhouse.
“I feel that in many ways they haven’t missed a beat, which they deserve a lot of credit for. The focus has been on the games and the series right in front of them as opposed to any uncertainty. At the same time Tony is in their thoughts and there has been communication with Tony and well wishes passed along. In no way do I feel the club has been distracted despite the circumstances. Very professional response.”