Neither Tony La Russa nor the White Sox got ahead of this story to address it, but we now know the crux of La Russa’s medical issue: He was suffering from heart failure, and had a pacemaker installed.
White Sox manager Tony La Russa confirms to me he had a pacemaker inserted for his heart. He is grateful for having undergone a relatively "simple" procedure and is coming along well, working to regain his strength. It's unclear when he'll be ready to manage again.— Janie McCauley (@JanieMcCAP) September 11, 2022
It’s telling that La Russa confirmed this to a Bay Area media member and not to anyone covering the White Sox, and that the club did not have anything prepared in advance for the moment when it would be learned that its manager was nodding off in the dugout due to his heart running slow.
Certainly, this news puts a different spin on Tony’s troubles this year, including the embarrassing footage of him falling asleep in-game. Perhaps if the team, or Tony, was a little more forthright with information dispensed to media and fans, folks (including us) would have been slower to grab our pitchforks and torches over this disappointing, middling ball club — or taken a more concerned tone.
It’s not to say that Tony doesn’t merit criticism for the team performance this year, or his puzzling decisions and obstinate attitude when asked to defend his process since he has returned to the White Sox. But regarding the mockery we put out there on the White Sox, full-throated, for employing a manager falling asleep in the dugout, we understand better now and will not repeat it.
We do want Tony to pay attention to what his body is telling him and to stay strong for his family, and want the White Sox to be responsible and prevent him from returning to the strain and stress of the big-league grind for the rest of this season.
Just a day ago, Tony’s return to the game seemed to be coming as soon as Tuesday, with the White Sox hosting the Colorado Rockies. Now, it seems the smart course of action will be to have the mentor carry on with multiple conversations per day with acting manager Miguel Cairo, but remain out of the day-to-day scene.
Best of continued health to La Russa, who despite a star-crossed return to the team, is a White Sox legend and family member.