(670 The Score) Before the 76-year-old Tony La Russa considered taking the White Sox’s managerial job, he first had to look inward. He had to ask himself how much mental and physical energy he has left in the tank after what has already been honored as a Hall of Fame career.
Eight to nine months a year of 10-hour days at the ballpark and constant travel is a grind that can wear out men half of La Russa’s age. So La Russa took a figurative look in the mirror. He decided he was still raring to go, which led to him being named the White Sox’s new manager Thursday.
“With all of our teams, we asked each person to make a commitment,” La Russa said on an afternoon Zoom call. “We asked them to promise to contribute to what we want to do and earn each person’s respect and trust. I would be hypocritical to ask that from the team and not make the same commitment.
“The first person you must check with is my own involvement. Was I doing this thing got the best of my ability? That personality helped lead me through all those years. That was what I needed to know.”
La Russa, whose 2,728 wins are the third-most all time, hasn’t managed since leading the Cardinals to a World Series title in 2011. He has stayed in the game since, first in the league office, then as the Diamondbacks’ chief baseball officer and most recently as an advisor in the Red Sox and then Angels organizations.
"(Having energy) is not why I retired," he said in reference to his age and time away from the dugout. “But coming back, you are right, I had to look at it very hard. I would not do anything to disrespect the White Sox, Jerry (Reinsdorf), Rick (Hahn) or Kenny (Williams) in this opportunity. There were these hurdles all along. But the last few days as this got closer and I said, ‘Yeah, this is going to happen,’ my external response was excitement. I am fired up and have not had one sense of regret."
La Russa believes he's up to the challenge of taking over a White Sox team that has championship expectations.
"I am excited to get with the players and staff, and I want to show them what I represent as a person and as a professional," he said. "My answer was I had concerns, I faced it and I passed my test. The way you survive is to look in the mirror and be able to say you did your best. If you are tough on yourself, you are immune to any other criticism. You are going to get hassled. Look at (Rays manager) Kevin Cash (in Game 6 of the World Series) and people talking about (is that a) bad decision or a good decision? I am fired up.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.