CHICAGO — Hall-of-Fame manager Tony La Russa will not return to the Chicago White Sox for the remainder of the 2022 season, as announced by the team Saturday. La Russa has undergone additional testing and medical procedures over the past week, per the same team release.
La Russa, who is in his second season of his second tenure running the White Sox, has been out of the dugout since Aug. 30 with what has been reported as heart trouble in relation to his pacemaker. General manager Rick Hahn and acting manager Miguel Cairo spoke about La Russa on Saturday, but didn’t illuminate many specifics regarding La Russa’s condition.
“We are going to continue to follow his wishes of keeping much of the specific details and his personal information quiet,” said Hahn of La Russa. “I did speak to him on the way in this 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 a result, he won’t be managing the remainder of this season.”
“I talked to him last night. He’s doing good. First is health,” Cairo said. “That’s the most important right now. I did talk to him for maybe 10-to-15 minutes. We got a job to do, we’ve got to finish strong. I talked to the players today, I let them know. It’s 11 more games, and let’s finish strong.”
There’s one more year left on La Russa’s three-year deal. Hahn anticipated that inevitable question concerning La Russa’s 2023 return and said that topic will be discussed later.
“We are going to finish up this season first,” Hahn said. “And then address everything when it’s appropriate to turn the page at the end of this year.”
When asked if La Russa has expressed an interest for managing in 2023, Hahn added, “Right now the focus is on his health. Right now, the focus is fully on his health.”
The White Sox were coming off a three-game weekend home sweep at the hands of the D-backs when La Russa took leave about one hour before a series opener against the Royals on Aug. 30. The White Sox dropped a 9-7 decision under Cairo’s guidance but had played much better, much livelier baseball up until this past week when they were swept at home by the American League Central-leading Guardians.
Although La Russa was present in Oakland on Sept. 11 for the Dave Stewart jersey number retirement ceremony and again on Sept. 13-14 in Chicago for the Colorado home series, he has not been with the team since. Cairo has served as bench coach for two seasons under La Russa and talked about their working relationship.
“He would do a lot of stuff on his own because he’s a smart man and he’s been in the game for a long time and he knew the different situations,” Cairo said. “He would ask sometimes, I would give him some, ‘Hey you want to pinch run this guy here or you want to play this guy defense’ and his mind would be going.
“Just watching him, how he would change pitchers, situations, how he handled the whole game is very intense and since Aug. 31 that I’ve been managing, I was like I don’t know how you did it for so many years. It’s intense, but it’s good to learn from that and have that adrenaline and that challenge.”
Cairo kept his focus on day-to-day affairs and the remaining 11 games when asked if he would like the managerial job permanently if La Russa didn’t return. Hahn praised Cairo, the White Sox coaching staff, and the players for their professional response in La Russa’s absence while maintaining concern for his health.
“Those guys deserve a lot of credit for what was thrust upon them on the fly and the way they responded,” Hahn said.
“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. It’s a learning experience that I’m enjoying. I learn from the best. I’m learning from the best still.”