La Russa officially out as White Sox manager: 'I did not do my job'
Five weeks after leaving the White Sox with a heart issue, there is official clarity on Tony La Russa.
The Hall of Fame manager, who celebrates his 78th birthday Tuesday, is not going to return to the Sox.
Meeting with the media before Monday night's game against the Twins at Guaranteed Rate Field, La Russa read from a prepared statement before taking questions.
The Sox (80-80) beat Minnesota 3-2 and clinched second place in the AL Central.
Cathcer Carlos Perez snapped a 2-2 tie with an RBI single in the seventh inning. In what could have been his last start with the White Sox, Johnny Cueto pitched 7 innings and allowed 2 runs on 6 hits.
In addition to dealing with a problem with the pacemaker he had inserted in February, La Russa said he is also addressing a "second health issue."
"At no time this season did either issue negatively affect my responsibilities as White Sox manager," La Russa said. "However, it has become obvious that the length of the treatment and recovery process for this second health issue makes it impossible for me to be the White Sox manager in 2023.
"The timing of this announcement now enables the front office to include filling the manager position with their other off-season priorities."
Sox general manager Rick Hahn said the search for La Russa's replacement "will officially begin in earnest here in the coming days. We've already met a few times to discuss some of the names and potential candidates on the list."
After the 2020 season, La Russa was the surprise choice to replace Rick Renteria as manager.
Hahn said he was looking for a much different manager before White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf deemed La Russa the right fit.
Just like two years ago, when A.J. Hinch appeared to be the choice, Hahn is back to his original blueprint.
"I think ideally, in the end, the right candidate is someone who has recent experience in the dugout with an organization that has contended for championships," the Sox's GM said. "Ideally, it's someone who is an excellent communicator, is someone who understands the way the game has grown and evolved in the last decade or so, but at the same time, obviously, respect for old-school sensibilities is going to be important as well.
"One thing that perhaps breaks from the mold of at least the last few hires, having a history with the White Sox, having some sort of connection to White Sox DNA, is by no means a requirement."
Hahn said acting manager Miguel Cairo, who replaced La Russa on Aug. 30, has earned an interview for the full-time job.
Cairo had the Sox rolling when he first moved over from bench coach, but an eight-game losing streak followed and ended all hopes for a third straight trip to the playoffs.
The Sox were 63-65 under La Russa.
"Our team's record this season is the final reality," La Russa said. "It is an unacceptable disappointment. There were some pluses, but too many minuses. In the major leagues, you either do or you don't. Explanations come across as excuses. Respect and trust demand accountability and during my managerial career, I understood that the ultimate responsibility for each minus belongs to the manager.
"I was hired to provide positive, difference-making leadership and support. Our record is proof. I did not do my job."
Liam Hendriks said this season's flop is on the players. "An overabundance of confidence that turned into arrogance," the White Sox's closer said.
As for La Russa?
"He takes the blame for every single person, no matter if he had a hand in it or not," Hendriks said. "That's something you have to respect. He's willing to lay on that sword and make sure the other guys under him aren't taking that, and that's something I appreciate in everything he's done."
Before talking to reporters, La Russa met with his former players for 15 minutes. They all attended his final media gathering.
"The last thing I said to the players in the meeting was that I love them," said La Russa, who was 93-69 last season in his first year back as White Sox manager. "I can't be more thankful. I was out 10 years. To walk in, see not just the talent but the personalities, the way it came together, that's why I'm upset and disappointed. This is going to work. This is going to work next year. I worked hard to earn their respect and trust, but I'm also upset that I let them down this year."
La Russa is not expected to return to the Sox in a different role.
"Right now, I'm totally consumed with getting back to Arizona and getting back into the (medical) plan," he said. "Also, this is the end of the season. The front office has been thinking about this. There's been no discussion, there's been no thoughts about it. I just know at some point, I'm going to have a bookstore I'm going to open. So who knows, maybe now?"