José Abreu: La Russa 'can count on me'

November 13th, 2020

CHICAGO -- spoke with Tony La Russa for the first time on Thursday afternoon, hours before the White Sox first baseman officially was announced as the 2020 American League MVP Award winner.

Abreu called his conversation with the new White Sox manager short, but “it was a good one.”

“I just welcomed him,” Abreu said through interpreter Billy Russo during a Friday Zoom call. “I told him I would support him and that I will have his back.

“La Russa has been one of the greatest managers in the history of the sport. I knew that. That's something that you have to respect. I think we're going to do good with him.”

When La Russa was announced as the replacement for Rick Renteria, Abreu gave a call to Albert Pujols, a friend and future Hall of Famer, who played for La Russa from 2001-11 in St. Louis. Pujols said La Russa was an outstanding manager, a great person and the sort of manager Abreu will enjoy.

The recent news of La Russa’s suspicion of driving under the influence from late February in Arizona got his latest stint with the White Sox off to a difficult start, but Abreu understands and respects the differing viewpoints.

“Things happen, and this is a free country. You can have an opinion and you have to respect each one’s opinion,” Abreu said. “But for us, as a baseball player, we have to appreciate what we have.

“He is our manager, and like I said before, his record as a manager in the big leagues is one of the best. We're going to have the chance to play for one of the greatest managers in the history of the game.”

The managerial change is a tough for Abreu, who was very close to Renteria and spoke to him after being named MVP. He was honored to play for Renteria and thankful for Renteria guiding the White Sox to the playoffs for the first time since 2008. But Abreu also appears optimistic in moving towards that championship-level team with La Russa.

“He can count on me,” Abreu said. “As a player, that's what we can do for a manager, just play hard and respect him. We'll see how things go once the season starts.

“It's true, we reached the postseason this year. But that is not enough. We can do better. We have to win. We have to win. That has to be our mindset. We have to win no matter how. That’s all we need to think about and all we need to take care of because we have to win. We have the talent, and we have the resources to win. We can’t have any more excuses. We have to win.”