La Russa doubles down on criticism of Yermin Mercedes, believes he hasn't lost clubhouse

La Russa is "willing to bet" that no White Sox players were upset by his remarks.
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By , 670 The Score

(670 The Score) White Sox manager Tony La Russa on Wednesday doubled down on his criticism of rookie slugger Yermin Mercedes and his belief in baseball's unwritten rules while also maintaining that he hasn't lost his players amid a self-inflicted drama.

La Russa doesn't regret condemning Mercedes on Tuesday afternoon after Mercedes homered on a 3-0 pitch from Twins infielder Willians Astudillo in the ninth inning of a 16-4 blowout win at Target Field on Monday night. After the White Sox lost 5-4 to the Twins on Tuesday night, La Russa said he didn't have a problem with how the Twins threw behind Mercedes in the seventh inning, adding that he would've been "suspicious" if they targeted his head.

Prior to the series finale Wednesday, the 76-year-old La Russa didn't seem concerned with how the White Sox players perceive his comments.

"He made a mistake," La Russa said Wednesday of Mercedes. "He's young. We handled it. But I think it's important for the Twins or anybody to know we play with sportsmanship. That's unacceptable. Whoever doesn't like that, you're welcome to your opinion.

"I would be willing to bet there's not anybody in that clubhouse that was upset that I mentioned that's not the way we compete.

"I walked around the clubhouse (Tuesday) night, (during) the day, before after the game, and nobody was giving me a Heisman.

"I think the team agrees. We started in from a basis in the spring training. This is how we compete. Play hard. Play the game right. Play it with respect."

La Russa said Tuesday that Mercedes would deal with "a consequence that he has to endure here within our family." It doesn't appear that punishment is a lack of playing time. Mercedes is back in the White Sox's lineup Wednesday, filling the DH role and hitting cleanup just as he did Tuesday. Mercedes, 28, is hitting an MLB-best .368 with six home runs and 15 RBIs this season.

While La Russa believes he still has his players' faith, there are signs on social media that indicate that isn't the case. White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson, one of the team's most influential players, shared a message for Mercedes in a comment on an Instagram post Tuesday: “The game isn’t over. Keep doing your thing big daddy.” Mercedes replied back: "Yes sir. Let's do it baby."

Anderson posted a cryptic tweet less than an hour prior to first pitch Wednesday saying: "Don't see and don't hear. Keep pushing."

White Sox reliever Evan Marshall hit the "like" button on a number of tweets criticizing La Russa's handling of the situation. Marshall has since removed several of those but still has liked posts from veteran MLB players Trevor Bauer and Jason Kipnis that took Mercedes' side.

Mets right-hander Marcus Stroman, who wrote off the White Sox in free agency after the hiring of La Russa, said he's "stuck in the past."

Prior to the public comments by La Russa on Tuesday, Mercedes suggested he hadn't been disciplined internally and indicated he wouldn't abide by baseball's unwritten rules.

Like many of the strong personalities with the White Sox, Mercedes said he'll continue to find joy in baseball.

"I'm going to play like that," Mercedes said. "I'm Yermin. I can't be another person because if I change it, everything is going to change.

"We're just having fun. It's baseball."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.