Nightengale: Tony La Russa is White Sox's No. 1 managerial candidate 'right now'

"You can’t underestimate the relationship that he has with Jerry Reinsdorf," Bob Nightengale says.

(670 The Score) The White Sox’s interest in Tony La Russa in their managerial search is “very legitimate,” USA Today reporter Bob Nightengale said on 670 The Score on Wednesday afternoon. The White Sox have asked and received permission from the Angels – for whom La Russa works in an advisory role – to interview him.

Former Astros manager AJ Hinch – who was suspended for the 2020 season due to his negligence in Houston’s sign-stealing scandal in 2017 – is the White Sox’s other top candidate, but La Russa is currently the focus. La Russa was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014 and is third all time among managers with 2,728 wins.

“Right now, he’s their No. 1 candidate,” Nightengale said of La Russa in an interview with Anthony Herron. “The White Sox sought permission from the Los Angeles Angles to speak to him. The Angels said they have granted permission. They’re talking now. He’s in the Hall of Fame for a reason.”

White Sox chairman Reinsdorf and La Russa have a “deep admiration” for one another, Nightengale said.

“You can’t underestimate the relationship that he has with Jerry Reinsdorf,” Nightengale said. “The way both of them see it, it could be a storybook thing. It’d be like a Hollywood movie to see (La Russa), who was fired by the White Sox in the ‘80s, coming back here a few decades later and lead the White Sox to a World Series championship.”

La Russa was the White Sox’s manager from 1979-’86 before going on to lead the Athletics and the Cardinals. He has won three World Series titles as a manager, with Oakland in 1989 and St. Louis in 2006 and 2011. La Russa hasn’t managed since he retired after leading the Cardinals to the championship in 2011.

La Russa, 76, didn’t stay out of the game for long. He took a role in the league office, then was the Diamondbacks’ chief baseball officer from 2014 to 2017. In recent years, he has worked for the Red Sox and Angels in an advisory role.

La Russa wouldn’t entertain any other managerial job in MLB other than the White Sox’s opening, Nightengale said, calling it a “marvelous situation” with the team moving into its window of championship contention.

Nightengale was asked where White Sox general manager Rick Hahn’s voice factors into the team’s managerial search when La Russa’s tie is to team ownership. As he answered, he indicated Hinch is the next choice after La Russa. Hinch is suspended through the conclusion of the World Series, so the White Sox can't conduct any official business with him until that point.

“Rick Hahn works for Jerry Reinsdorf and for Kenny Williams, for that matter,” Nightengale said. “Whatever any owner wants in any organization, he can do what he wants.

“So we’ll see. AJ Hinch, if it doesn’t work out with Tony La Russa, AJ Hinch is the guy.”

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