The White Sox’ decision to hire Tony La Russa as their new skipper was widely panned from the get-go, and last night’s revelation that the team knew he’d been charged with a second DUI prior to making the hire has only enhanced criticism. The La Russa hire, however, is now generating a negative reaction beyond fans and pundits.
After The Athletic’s Keith Law further criticized the White Sox last night on Twitter in light of the newest details, free-agent righty Marcus Stroman replied to call the decision “baffling on all measures.” Asked by a follower what type of contract it would take for Stroman to sign to play under La Russa, the pitcher replied: “No amount of money honestly. Peace of mind is always priority.”
Much has been made of whether La Russa will be able to connect with a younger generation of players, particularly in light of his vocal 2016 stance against Colin Kaepernick’s protests in the National Football League. La Russa seemed to double down on those comments earlier this year, fueling questions about how he’d be received by current White Sox players. Tim Anderson, who sits on the board of the Players Alliance, spoke of keeping an open mind but noted that although more than a week had elapsed since the hiring was announced, La Russa had yet to contact him.
The White Sox surely knew there’d be pushback against the initial La Russa decision — particularly considering they knew about the latest DUI that had yet to become public — but it’s unlikely they’d have anticipated such public rejection from a prominent free agent like Stroman. Still, Stroman didn’t mince his words, and it stands to reason that there are other free agents and other players who hold similar opinions (even if they don’t vocalize them).
A White Sox official told USA Today’s Bob Nightengale last night that La Russa would not lose his job and in fact wasn’t even in line to face any discipline from the organization, although Stroman’s comments only figure to place further pressure for some kind of action on owner Jerry Reinsdorf.
It’s become increasingly clear, after all, that the decision to hire La Russa came solely from Reinsdorf and was not well-received elsewhere in the organization. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic wrote this morning that Reinsdorf turned the “La Russa Express into a runaway train,” adding that White Sox executives were “unable to stop their owner from bringing his longtime friend back into the organization.”