Hahn on La Russa's return: 'We don’t have that information'

September 13th, 2022

CHICAGO -- Tony La Russa was at Guaranteed Rate Field Tuesday for the White Sox series opener against the Rockies and is scheduled to be back at the ballpark again Wednesday afternoon for the series finale.

But La Russa’s return to the dugout as manager remains uncertain, with Miguel Cairo moving into his 14th game as acting leader.

“I don’t have a ton to add to what Tony has already shared,” said White Sox general manager Rick Hahn, making his first official comments since La Russa was sidelined with a heart issue. Hahn spoke via Zoom Tuesday due to having tested positive for COVID-19. “Frankly, at the start of this process he asked us to respect his privacy when it comes to his personal health information, which we obviously have and will continue to do so.

“Tony will be watching today and tomorrow from a suite at the ballpark during the games. He’ll be watching in person and obviously won’t be managing and not in uniform. As for if and when that may occur, we simply don’t have that information at this point, and in the end, we’re going to understandably follow the advice of medical experts on this one.”

La Russa reportedly had problems with a pacemaker installed during the offseason and had it surgically corrected by his doctor in Arizona, according to a report from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. The Hall of Famer was upbeat when meeting with the media in Oakland before Dave Stewart’s jersey retirement this past Sunday, but was unsure about his future managerial status.

Cairo added La Russa wasn’t part of any pregame meetings on Tuesday. But they talked about that lineup and that day’s strategy, just as they have done every day since he left prior to a loss to Kansas City on Aug. 30.

“I’m mentally prepared every day,” Cairo said. “Today, I’m the manager. Tomorrow, I don’t know. But that’s in my job right now and I’m glad he’s around because I always ask him questions about what I could have done better or different or stuff like that.

“He’s got experience. He’s a mentor. He’s like a father to me. I care about him and I’m glad he’s well. He’s in good spirits.”

Kansas City beat the White Sox, 9-7, during Cairo’s first game as acting manager, dropping a then-disappointing squad to three games under .500 and six games out of first. It was after that game where Cairo had a team meeting because of some on-field things he didn’t like.

The message was pretty simple, as Cairo explained on Tuesday -- "Are you in or are you out?" Chicago has responded with a 9-4 record since that meeting.

“If you are out, let me know. If you are in, let’s go for it,” Cairo said. “We have a really good team. We have a lot of talent. We have a good pitching staff, good hitters, good infielders. We have everything, and sometimes you need a little push and I think that’s what I did so they can go out and perform.”

“We're the same team, but [one] that has awoken a little bit, whether that just be from that one person who finally said something,” White Sox closer Liam Hendriks said. “It's like when your dad tells you something to do. Sometimes you don't always listen, and then your weird uncle tells you the exact same thing and all the sudden it clicks and kind of ratifies in your own head a little bit more.”

As for how La Russa’s current status affects his managerial future with the White Sox, Hahn said it was too early to approach that topic.

“Let's just win tonight,” Hahn said. “Look, we've been trying to navigate the last few weeks under unique circumstances, and I think the team has done very well. And obviously, everyone's noted that. But as for what lies ahead for next year, it's simply too soon for that."