Tony La Russa’s reboot as the Chicago White Sox manager is ending as awkwardly as it began nearly two years ago.
USA Today columnist Bob Nightengale reported Sunday that La Russa will officially announce his retirement Monday at a news conference in Chicago.
While it was not surprising, the news of La Russa’s exit for health reasons ends a controversial two-year managerial stint that resulted in one American League Central division title and one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history.
It also begins another managerial search for general manager Rick Hahn, who was bypassed in the last search when Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf decided to bring back La Russa, a longtime friend who was fired as Sox manager in 1986.
Nightengale reported La Russa, who turns 78 on Tuesday, planned to return for the 2023 season even after a heart-related episode forced him from the dugout on Aug. 30, leaving acting manger Miguel Cairo to steer the ship. But doctors told La Russa he should not manage again, and he has decided to adhere to their advice.
La Russa moved into second place on the all-time win list of major-league managers during his second stint with the Sox, winding up with 2,884 victories. But his reign will be remembered for the many controversies surrounding him, including his theories on the “unwritten rules” of baseball, an unusual strategy of issuing intentional walks with a 1-2 count and constantly playing reserve Leury García in spite of a poor offensive season.
Chants of “Fire Tony” were heard at Guaranteed Rate Field during the season, and instead of empathizing with La Russa after his health issues, many fans were simply glad he was no longer running the team.
The Sox got off to a hot start with Cairo as acting manager, winning 13 of 19 games in a tight AL Central race, before regressing again. After Saturday’s loss in San Diego, they’ll need to win their final four games to have a winning season.
The underachieving season has led to speculation Hahn’s job is in jeopardy and that the team will make several personnel moves in the offseason to try and fix things.