After two seasons at the helm of the Chicago White Sox, Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa stepped down Monday due to health concerns. La Russa had one year left on his three-year contract.
La Russa last managed a game on Aug. 28 after undergoing tests on an undisclosed condition. On Sept. 24, La Russa officially announced he would not be returning this season to continue receiving treatment. La Russa planned to manage in 2023, and even spent time with the team while in Oakland, where he used to manage, for Dave Stewart’s jersey retirement ceremony. However, La Russa reportedly came to the decision after doctors advised him against taking on rigorous managerial duties for another season.
La Russa released a statement Monday evening, which went into detail about the reasons behind his sudden retirement.
“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.”
At 78, La Russa retires as one of the most accomplished managers in MLB history, with 2,889 victories, more than all but one manager in MLB history. However, he ran out of time in Chicago and left on his own terms before they could run him out. La Russa, who was hired by his longtime-friend Jerry Reinsdorf in 2021 has been embattled throughout his tenure as manager.
La Russa’s return to Chicago was viewed as Reinsdorf making-up for firing a young La Russa in 1986. After departing the Southside of Chicago, La Russa embarked on a stretch in which he won three World Series titles and 13 division titles. Unfortunately, he was unable to bring that magic back to Chicago with him. He was seen dozing off during a game, distrusted analytics, opting for traditional instincts and made questionable managerial decisions that flummoxed fans.
La Russa joined a club that reached the postseason for the first time since 2008. However, the team’s trajectory plunged. The White Sox won the 2021 American League Central title, but with a lower winning percentage than they did during the abbreviated 2020 campaign. In 2022, the White Sox spent a handful of days sniffing first place in early April, but have been staring up at the Cleveland Guardians since for much of the season. La Russa ends his second stint as White Sox manager with a 172-149 record, but in his statement, lamented being unable to finish the job after an underwhelming 2022 season.
“Finally, I am sincerely disappointed that I am leaving without the opportunity to finish what I was brought in to do.” La Russa said. “I still appreciate the chance to come back home to the White Sox and leave today with many more good memories than disappointments”