(670 The Score) Tony La Russa won’t return as the White Sox’s manager in 2023, he announced Monday while detailing health issues that have forced him out of the dugout.
The news came as no surprise, as the 77-year-old La Russa has been on a medical leave of absence since Aug. 30 due to a heart issue. That combined with the White Sox's underachieving season had pointed toward change being needed in the dugout.
"This February, I had a pacemaker installed and was cleared by my doctors to begin spring training as scheduled," La Russa said in a statement. "A periodic check of the device later identified a problem. During batting practice on Aug. 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 offseason. 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 offseason priorities."
At 79-80 entering play Monday, the White Sox have been MLB’s biggest disappointment in 2022, which they opened as the AL Central favorites and into which they carried championship hopes. The White Sox went 93-69 and won the division in 2021, which marked the start of La Russa’s second stint in the dugout for the organization. Chicago lost in the American League Division Series last season.
La Russa addressed the White Sox's struggles in his statement Monday.
"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.
"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."
Already elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014, La Russa retires as the second-winningest manager in MLB history. The 2,900 wins to his name through Sunday rank behind only Connie Mack's 3,731. La Russa also is a three-time World Series-winning manager, leading Oakland to a title in 1989 and St. Louis to championships in 2006 and 2011. La Russa retired after the Cardinals' championship in 2011 and was out of the dugout for a decade before being rehired by the White Sox ahead of the 2021 season in a move driven entirely by chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. La Russa also managed the White Sox from 1979-'86.
Miguel Cairo has served as the White Sox's acting manager in La Russa's absence. La Russa had one year left on his contract as White Sox manager, according to reports.