La Russa clarifies comments: 'We are going to win with what we’ve got here'

April 1st, 2022

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- White Sox manager Tony La Russa opened his Thursday media session with a strong rebuttal of those who have called him rude or disrespectful to White Sox fans after he made a comment some interpreted as criticism on Monday.

La Russa was asked about fans being vocal about wanting the organization to go out and add a right fielder -- and whether he viewed such a move as necessary.

“Those are probably the fans who are not White Sox fans,” La Russa said. “White Sox fans know there are guys in this camp who can handle it.”

Fans did not exactly respond favorably to that answer, especially via social media. But La Russa stressed Thursday that those comments were an absolute show of support for the players he has in camp.

“What I said was we are going to win with what we’ve got here. And if somebody is saying we need help, they are not White Sox fans, because they don’t know it,” La Russa said. “They are out there trying to make us spend money. We should make it just with what we’ve got here.

“My question to you from Day 1 to now, have I ever been disrespectful to White Sox fans? Haven’t I bragged about who they are, the support we get? I’ve never [said anything disparaging]. So for somebody to take what I said to mean like I’m demeaning White Sox fans, that’s got to be corrected. They have to know the opposite is true.”

In La Russa’s opinion, fans criticizing Chicago's moves are from other fan bases or outside observers that don’t fully grasp the large level of talent the 2022 squad already possesses. Right field, second base and starting pitching appeared to be needs going into the season for a team with designs on a World Series title, and while the White Sox added veteran second baseman Josh Harrison and right-handers Vince Velasquez, Joe Kelly and Kendall Graveman, fans wanted something splashier as a "completion" to the roster adjustments.

One day after La Russa made those comments, the White Sox acquired left-handed-hitting outfielder Adam Haseley in a trade with the Phillies. Outside focus still falls more upon free agents such as Michael Conforto, who remains available, or perhaps another big-name free agent or trade the White Sox could have made to improve a spot on the roster.

Despite any criticism of the team's maneuvering, the White Sox have a payroll just over $183 million, which ranks seventh in baseball. La Russa feels the front office, led by executive vice president Ken Williams and general manager Rick Hahn, has given his coaching staff a winner.

“I’ve told this to Kenny and Rick,” La Russa said. “I know they are working to improve the club from last spring and this winter and this spring. I said, ‘Hey, we know you are working.’

“Sometimes you can’t make a deal. The point about disrespecting White Sox fans, that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about winning with what we've got, and our White Sox fans know we are going to do the best with it -- and we can win with it.”

Andrew Vaughn, who looked to be the leading candidate for the everyday right field role, is recovering from a right hip pointer suffered via a lunging catch made Sunday. The White Sox are pleased with Vaughn’s progress so far, but won’t rush him back.

Adam Engel, Haseley, Gavin Sheets, Micker Adolfo (the Sox No. 14 prospect) and Leury García are also in the mix. La Russa’s comments earlier in the week not only were in support of this group, but really his entire team.

“It’s not that some White Sox fans don’t know what we need,” La Russa said. “We probably agree. Could we add this or add that? But there’s 29 other clubs also trying to add, and sometimes you’ve done everything you can. In uniform, the only time you are really upset is when you think somebody is putting pressure on you to win and you don’t have a chance. That’s when it’s unfair.

“You should play as good as X club, and we have a .500 club. That’s what’s upsetting. But when they work this hard to give us a chance and you've got a real shot … In my whole career, we never had pressure from the front office to do something stupid that mortgages the future. They have a responsibility. We have ours.”