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.

Nathan Eovaldi to make 2018 debut for Rays soon

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Rays manager Kevin Cash said that pitcher Nathan Eovaldi will join the starting rotation on Monday or Tuesday to face the Athletics, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Eovaldi’s rehab outing with Triple-A Durham went well, even though he gave up eight runs in four innings.

Eovaldi, 28, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He had arthroscopic surgery in March to remove loose bodies in his elbow. It’s been a long road back. Knowing Eovaldi needed to recover from surgery, the Rays signed him to a one-year, $2 million contract in 2017 that included a $2 million club option for 2018 that they exercised last November.

When Eovaldi last pitched, he ranked among baseball’s hardest throwers, particularly among starters. He averaged 97.1 MPH on his fastball in 2016. Among starters who racked up at least 100 innings that season, only the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard had a higher average velocity (97.9 MPH). It remains to be seen if he still has that velocity after undergoing two procedures on his elbow.

The Rays will be glad to have Eovaldi back. The club has sustained injuries to Jake Faria, Yonny Chirinos, and Jose De Leon.