CHICAGO -- Tim Anderson has been frequently asked about Tony La Russa since shortly after the Hall of Famer officially returned for his second stint managing the White Sox.
His commentary has been overwhelmingly and consistently positive concerning La Russa. That sentiment didn’t change when Anderson was asked again about his skipper during a Thursday Zoom, two days after the 2021 White Sox season came to an end.
“Huge impact,” said Anderson of La Russa. “Everybody thought we weren't going to get along, but we were talking behind the scenes the whole time. For him, the players come first, and he makes that known. We're one big family, but he did a great job coming in and being a part of what we're trying to do.
“I couldn't be more happy with what he did. The relationship was great, overall, with the players. Everybody was just getting along with him. He came in and did what he was supposed to do, and hopefully he can step right back in and continue to push us next year and make these decisions that he did. I was very pleased with how he handled it.”
La Russa’s return for ’22 shouldn’t be a major offseason storyline, with the 77-year-old featuring six pennants and three World Series championships on his résumé under contract. But La Russa explained during Tuesday’s postgame press conference a three-pronged checklist he has followed from year to year after gaining a little managerial job security.
Does ownership and the front office want him back? Does he have the desire to keep managing? Do the players want him back? La Russa has that desire, stating Tuesday that the White Sox have more to do, and the players strongly stand behind him.
“He has been in every one of our corners the whole time,” White Sox designated hitter Gavin Sheets said. “When you have a Hall of Fame manager in your corner and supporting you, you feel like you can do anything.”
“Everybody was like, ‘It’s going to be hard to relate, he’s older,’” White Sox reliever Ryan Burr said. “Some things we don’t see eye to eye on. That’s normal. But everybody in this clubhouse respects him, and me personally, I would run through a wall for that guy any day of the week. If that’s what he asks me, that’s what I’m going to do. Fantastic. I love playing for Tony.”
Anderson hasn’t had time to assess what the White Sox need to do differently after the four-game Division Series loss to the Astros, but he said he would have an answer next Spring Training. He echoed the sentiment of first baseman José Abreu from Wednesday’s Zoom, saying that the White Sox had a successful season but were outplayed by the Astros.
“Overall, a lot of positives in there,” Anderson said. “We won the division, that didn't happen last year. We also brought two playoff games to Chicago, and that didn't happen last year. It's just a step to where we're trying to get to, and we've just got to keep believing and trusting in that process and take it step by step.
“[The Astros] did a great job doing their homework and understanding what kind of hitters we are and attacking us in certain ways. But we competed, we competed all the way to the end. We gave everything we've got. We've got to learn from it and come back ready to go. We understand what we did. We're going to take this offseason, let that soak in as well and come back ready to go.”
That next step forward almost certainly will be taken with La Russa still at the helm.
“For me, yeah, I want him to be back. But at the end of the day, my decision don't really matter,” Anderson said. “So I guess it all depends on what the front office thinks, but from my half, as far as speaking from a player's standpoint, for sure. I definitely want him in.
“He did a great job with the way he managed and just being open. You know when we took the field, we were going to go out and play hard for him and give him everything we got.”