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Tony La Russa steps down as skipper

“I did not do my job.”

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Cleveland Guardians Aaron Josefczyk-USA TODAY Sports

Tony La Russa just issued a statement ahead of tonight’s series against Minnesota. Rumors quickly sparked as La Russa took a medical leave of absence, leaving Miguel Cairo as interim manager for the remainder of the season. Bob Nightengale broke the news over the weekend that La Russa would be announcing his retirement today.

Here is La Russa’s statement:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, October 3, 2022


CHICAGO – Chicago White Sox Manager Tony La Russa issued the following statement this afternoon:

This February, I had a pacemaker installed and was cleared by my doctors to begin spring training as scheduled. A periodic check of the device later identified a problem. During batting practice on August 30, I was informed of the issue, taken out of uniform and tested by doctors the next day. The solution was to update the pacemaker in Arizona and for me not to return as manager without medical clearance.

During an annual private exam after the first of the year, a second health issue also was diagnosed. I decided to delay confronting it until the off season. While I was inactive with the pacemaker, the second issue was analyzed. The result is that a corrective plan has been developed by my medical team and implementation has begun. I informed the White Sox of this second issue while I was out of uniform dealing with the pacemaker. As I have stated previously, I continue to request privacy related to my health issues and appreciate those who have respected that request. My overall prognosis is good, and I want to thank everyone who has reached out to me with well wishes related to my health.

At no time this season did either issue negatively affect my responsibilities as White Sox manager. 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.

Our team’s record this season is the final reality. 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.

The 2020 and 2021 seasons were important positive steps for this organization ending with playoff baseball. I take pride in the 2021 season because our team dealt with the pressure of being labeled as favorite by earning a division championship and posting winning records in each of the season’s six months. In 2022, we have some movement in the wrong direction. The key now is to figure out what is right versus what is wrong. I’m convinced that the process will be productive, and the players will be receptive. The future for this team remains bright.

At no time have I been disappointed or upset with White Sox fans, including those who at times chanted “Fire Tony.” They come to games with passion for our team and a strong desire to win. Loud and excited when we win, they rightly are upset when we play poorly. A great example of this support came in Game 3 of last year’s division series. No disrespect intended to any of my other teams and their fans, but that was the most electric crowd I ever experienced.

Finally, I am sincerely disappointed that I am leaving without the opportunity to finish what I was brought in to do. I still appreciate the chance to come back home to the White Sox and leave today with many more good memories than disappointments.

As I have said many times during my career, no manager has ever had more good fortune than I have.

Thank you.

The issue La Russa has been dealing with is related to the pacemaker that was installed in February and thought to have been fixed in the spring. Another issue with the pacemaker arose on August 30. He also disclosed a second, less urgent medical issue he is dealing with — and that illness, not his pacemaker, is what will prevent him from returning to the dugout. His doctors urged him to step down from his role as White Sox manager.

La Russa began his career managing the White Sox in 1979. He retired in 2011 after leading the St. Louis Cardinals to a World Series title. La Russa is the second-winningest manager in MLB history and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2014. Despite 2021 being a great year for La Russa and the White Sox, he admitted he didn’t do his job this season, as the White Sox already have been eliminated from the postseason race.

We wish La Russa the best in his retirement and a full recovery.

Here are a few reactions from Twitter: