The White Sox have stumbled out of the gate early on this season in Tony La Russa’s return to the dugout, and the veteran skipper has placed the team’s latest loss squarely upon himself.
Chicago dropped its series finale Wednesday against the Seattle Mariners, losing 8-4. It left the ChiSox at an underwhelming 3-4 following the team’s season-opening road trip. For a team expected to be among the top teams in the AL Central, and perhaps the American League, it has been a disappointing start to the season.
Following Wednesday’s loss, La Russa bemoaned what he believed to be poor managerial decisions in the sixth inning during which the M’s blew open the game with seven runs.
“We were in an excellent position going into the sixth inning, and the best way to explain it is, I did a really lousy job managing that inning,” La Russa said, via the Chicago Sun-Times. “It really hurt our chances to win.”
Leading 4-1, La Russa let reliever Matt Foster face eight hitters after pulling starter Dallas Keuchel after 93 pitches with two runners on and no outs. La Russa failed to get the bullpen up and running quickly enough while Foster struggled. Finally, Jose Ruiz got sufficiently warmed up and needed only two pitches to close out the inning.
“That’s the clearest example of why I’m upset with myself. He faced too many hitters,” La Russa said of Foster. “That’s lousy managing. Pushed him too far. Stupid, lousy, no excuse.”
There was no shortage of skepticism in MLB circles — not to mention from within the team’s own clubhouse as well — over the White Sox’s decision to bring in La Russa. After all, the 76-year-old La Russa represents a more traditional, low-key and old-school approach to the game, a style that naysayers believed would not mesh well with a fiery, emotional White Sox club.
What’s more, it’s been a long, long time since La Russa manned a dugout, having last managed in 2011 with the St. Louis Cardinals. Even La Russa himself admitted to understanding the skepticism surrounding his hiring ahead of the season.
That said, La Russa made substantial inroads in winning over the clubhouse during spring training. Further, seven games, much less one, does not make for a season whatsoever. La Russa obviously deserves far more time than one week to prove he still has what it takes to run an MLB ball club, and taking the fall for Wednesday’s loss will likely only further ingratiate himself to his players.