La Russa on Pujols: 'There's not a fit here'

Robert (right hip flexor strain) won't require surgery; Crochet comes off IL

May 8th, 2021

Tony La Russa managed Albert Pujols from 2001-11 with the Cardinals, watching one of the most historic runs for a player in Major League history.

But even with Pujols being designated for assignment by the Angels on Thursday, the current White Sox manager doesn’t see a potential reunion with an individual who he has previously referred to as family. The White Sox need help in center field but are set at first base and designated hitter.

“We've got [] and then you've got [], and even if Yermín gets a little less hot, it's a good way to maneuver that DH and get other guys off their feet,” La Russa said. “There's not a fit here, unfortunately.”

The fit is even being discussed because of left fielder Eloy Jiménez being sidelined for five-to-six months after surgery to repair a ruptured left pectoral tendon and Luis Robert away from baseball activity for 12-to-16 weeks due to a Grade 3 right hip flexor strain, representing a complete tear. La Russa talked to Pujols on Thursday and said the 41-year-old, who should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, wants to keep playing.

“He really believes -- and if he believes, then I believe -- that he's got game left,” La Russa said. “So I'd be very interested to see if a club sees the fit.

“If somebody acquires him, they'll get a very determined [Albert] … . I hope it's another league or in a different division because I would never underestimate him.”

No surgery for Robert

Robert will not require surgery as part of the recovery for the Grade 3 strain of his right hip flexor, according to the club. Following consultations with a number of specialists, it was determined rest and rehabilitation would be the appropriate course of action for a full recovery. The White Sox next update on Robert’s progress will be provided in approximately eight weeks.

When general manager Rick Hahn announced the injury news related to Robert, he explained the recovery time was basically the same with or without the surgery.

“My understanding in being around different injuries over the years, if you can avoid surgery, that's a plus,” La Russa said. “So, I think it is a real healthy sign for Luis. And what's good for Luis is good for us, but I do believe that that's good news.”

“Again trying to be as professional as possible. Try to take the emotion out of it,” said right fielder Adam Eaton on handling baseball life without Robert. “You can have the emotion about him off the field and we did.”

Crochet returns

Left-hander Garrett Crochet was reinstated from the 10-day injured list prior to Friday’s series opener against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium, with right-hander Alex McRae optioned to Triple-A Charlotte. Crochet, ranked as the club's No. 2 prospect by MLB Pipeline, was placed on the IL retroactive to April 26 with an upper back strain, feeling the issue while playing catch the day after throwing three scoreless innings against the Rangers on April 25.

“I felt like there might have been something there that I wanted to kind of nip in the bud, something that was going on in my back,” Crochet said. “As the season’s going, getting used to feeling out my body through playing catch every day.

“That’s part of the process. I was able to strengthen my back and feel good playing catch, and go off the mound a few times this past week, so ready to go today.”

Third to first

• Outfielder Luis Gonzalez, who looked to have the first opportunity to fill in during Robert’s absence, was placed on the seven-day injured list by Charlotte with a back issue.

“You don't want to mess around with backs,” La Russa said. “I saw him Sunday and he was feeling better. I don't know how quickly he can be ready.”

• La Russa delivered a follow-up comment on Friday on using closer Liam Hendriks as the designated runner at second in the 10th inning of Wednesday’s loss to the Reds, when an MLB rule he acknowledged not knowing would have allowed him to use Abreu.

“I’m glad I didn't try to BS my way through it. I just didn't know it and I admitted it,” La Russ said. “It's a good rule and I've had a few people contact me in the game that were not aware either. I'm sure a lot were, but I admit I didn't know, and it's a good rule. A very good rule.”

He said it

“I should start a deal with pain-off or some type of anti-inflammation rub or something like that. For sure.” -- Eaton, on dealing with the aches and pains of the season, returning to the lineup after two days off