Tony La Russa declines to address White Sox speculation

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Tony La Russa managed the White Sox from 1979-1986 and there’s already speculation about his possibly being interested in the job again following Ozzie Guillen’s departure, but the Cardinals skipper declined to address his status yesterday.

“We’re not going to be distracted because you’re not getting me to answer anything except about this series here,” La Russa told Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch. “I have an issue with me answering any speculation because it’s exactly the opposite of what the club should be getting from a guy who is making out the lineup.”

Tough to blame La Russa for wanting to focus on his team’s playoff push, but then again simply denying any interest in the White Sox job would probably have taken exactly as much time as refusing to talk about the speculation. And when told refusing to comment might fuel the speculation even further, he replied: “It’s healthy to have fun, isn’t it? They say if you smile 10 times a day you’re healthy. I’m hope everyone is having fun.”

Strauss notes that La Russa has a “longstanding relationship with White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf” and “Reinsdorf contacted La Russa about his interest in the job prior to hiring Guillen following the 2003 season.” La Russa is technically under contract for 2012, which would be his 17th season as Cardinals manager, but it’s a mutual option.

The Nats want Trea Turner to attempt 75-80 stolen bases this year

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When it comes to cliche spring training stories, we talk a lot about “Best Shape of His Life.” Sometimes we talk about the “[Pitcher] has been working on a changeup” or “[Hitter] has made an adjustment to his swing” stories too. Then there’s the “we’re really going to focus on fundamentals” quotes managers love to give in February and March. They’re evergreens. 

Another one in that category is the “we’re going to run more” or “we plan to be aggressive on the base paths this year.” You hear that from at least one or two managers every spring. I imagine because, like the fundamentals one, it deals with something over which they have at least some moderate control. It’s a good quote.

We’re hearing it from Nats training camp this year with respect to one particularly speedy player in Trea Turner. From Mark Zuckerman at MASN:

Davey Martinez called Trea Turner into his office this week and told the speedy shortstop he wants him to attempt more stolen bases this season. How many? Let’s just say even the ultra-aggressive Turner was taken aback.

“Yeah, he gave me a number,” Turner said. “And I was like: ‘Wow, all right.’”

Martinez later revealed to assembled reporters that he thinks if Turner “attempts 75-80, we’ll be in great shape.”

Turner led the National League with 43 stolen bases on 52 attempts in 2018. The year before he attempted 54, which was his career high. Only only four players have attempted 80 or more stolen bases in the past ten years, so yes, 75-80 would be quite the escalation.

Which is not to say it’s silly. On a very basic level, yeah, if he is stealing bases more often, even without changing his basic approach, the Nats WILL be in great shape because it’ll likely mean that he’s on base more, and that’s good. If it’s merely a matter of him being more aggressive in the same number of times on base, well, let me know, but I’m not holding my breath.

I guess it’s nice to have goals, though.