MLB

Tony La Russa steps down as White Sox manager over health concerns, says ‘I did not do my job’ in 2022

White Sox manager Tony La Russa stepped down from his post Monday, citing ongoing health concerns, he announced in a statement. La Russa, who turns 78 on Tuesday, stepped away from the team at the end of August on the advice of his doctors and underwent a procedure to repair his pacemaker. 

Here is La Russa’s statement in full. In addition to detailing his health issues, La Russa acknowledged the team’s record is proof “I did not do my job.”

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.

La Russa’s second tenure with the White Sox ends in disappointment. The Sox after the abbreviated 2020 season parted ways with then-manager Rick Renteria despite the fact that he guided him to their first postseason appearance since 2008. By all accounts, the surprising decision was forced by owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who then dictated the hiring of La Russa despite not having managed since 2011. La Russa originally managed the White Sox under Reinsdorf from 1979 until partway through the 1986 season. During that first tenure, La Russa led them to a 99-win season and a division title in 1983. 

La Russa’s second run with the White Sox yielded an American League Central title in 2021. However, the team’s winning percentage actually declined relative to Renteria’s final year in 2020, and the Sox, also as in 2020, were bounced from the postseason in the first round. Things got worse in 2022. Despite playing in the weakest division in baseball, the White Sox under La Russa weren’t able to overcome a rash of injuries. They spent just eight days in first place and none after April 20. The team initially saw better results under La Russa’s interim replacement, Miguel Cairo, but they weren’t able to catch the Cleveland Guardians, who surged down the stretch. 

La Russa, who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014, won two World Series titles with the St. Louis Cardinals and another with the Oakland A’s. He won the Manager of the Year award in his respective league four times and is second on the all-time managerial wins list behind only Connie Mack. La Russa’s second stint with the White Sox will be remembered as a curious and largely unsuccessful addendum to what is otherwise a stellar career in the dugout. 


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