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The dawn of the La Russa Era: Hopeful, but hushed

Neither Tim Anderson nor Eloy Jiménez — franchise cornerstones — have spoken with the new skipper

Eloy, sporting not just his first career Silver Slugger, but a spiffy new ’do.
Chicago White Sox

A media session intended to honor two of the South Side’s three Silver Slugger winners predictably descended into a Tony La Russa hiring postmortem.

Just one question into the proceedings, the cursory chat about Silver Sluggers was dismissed and we entered the La Russa Zone:

“Getting right to it,” said Tim Anderson, laughing nervously when asked about the La Russa hire. “Um, I don’t know. Kinda been reading what’s been going on, talking to people to get a better understanding. Hopefully we’ll get along, and ultimately win a championship on the South Side. Looking forward to pick his brain. Have some fun with it … if he allows that.”

Eloy Jiménez was, in a sense, optimistic as well.

“What can I say? Tony is one of the greatest managers in the history of the game,” the Big Baby said. “When I saw the news, I was excited to be managed by a guy like him. But it was bittersweet, because I love Ricky, too.”

Both players professed admiration for ex-manager Ricky Renteria, Anderson going so far as to saying he’s been in touch with him and will continue to use him as a friend and confidant in the future.

“He’s been in my corner since I’ve stepped into the big leagues, teaching me the game, staying on my butt as well [if I was] lacking,” Anderson said. “Such a great guy, a great manager. Bittersweet to see him go. I reached out and wished him the best ... The relationship is still there. I can reach out to guys if I need to.”

Admittedly, the relationship between La Russa and his players have gotten off to a ... quiet ... start. Neither Anderson nor Jiménez had talked to the new manager yet, and by the sound of the scuttlebutt of calls and texts among the team, no one has. As Anderson said, “still waiting for him to reach out to me.”

La Russa might have a challenge ahead in that first phone call, however, if he thinks he can impose too much of his belief system on the heartbeat of the ballclub.

“No I won’t change my style for Tony,” Anderson said, steadfastly. “I will continue to be me, always have, always will be. We’ll see what happens. No, I will not be changing how I approach the game. I’m excited to talk to him.”

And then, TA added with a smile: “I’m going to ask him why everyone thinks we won’t get along.”

The pair paid tribute to the absent member of the Silver Slugger trio, José Abreu, who admitted in the White Sox press release he felt “like a proud father” after hearing of their awards.

“José is definitely getting the attention he needs,” Anderson said. “Every single year, he’s been consistent. He’s helped us turn into the players we are today. See every day how he goes about his business is rubbing off.”

“I know he always gets excited when we do good things,” Jiménez said. “He’s a leader. That’s the best way I can describe him.”

With all the heavy stuff about La Russa — who, it bears repeating, has yet to contact any of his White Sox players — and the Silver Slugger news, I felt we were missing out on an important award. So I asked Eloy about his role in Luis Robert’s Gold Glove — namely, selectively ceding left field to Robert to help the center fielder secure the award.

While Anderson began instantly guffawing, Jiménez himself laughed, congratulated his friend — and issued a warning.

“Well, he deserves it,” Eloy smiled. “He made a lot of good catches. That s*% is not going to happen next year.”

Silver Slugger media session footage courtesy of the Chicago White Sox.