CHICAGO – White Sox manager Tony La Russa is out indefinitely because of an unspecified health issue.
The 77-year-old La Russa missed Tuesday night’s 9-7 loss to Kansas City on the recommendation of his doctors. The team said he is scheduled to undergo additional testing in Arizona with his personal physicians “over the coming days.”
Bench coach Miguel Cairo will continue to serve as acting manager while La Russa is out.
“It’s unbelievably tough,” outfielder Andrew Vaughn said. “We really don’t have much information on what’s going on.”
La Russa’s absence on Tuesday was announced about one hour before the first pitch. The Hall of Famer showed no signs of health issues during his pregame session with reporters and while talking to general manager Rick Hahn and former Oakland Athletics pitching great Dave Stewart before the game.
Right fielder Gavin Sheets spent Tuesday with La Russa and said he was “blindsided” when he learned of his manager’s absence after batting practice.
“I found out on Twitter,” Vaughn said. “I saw that the White Sox posted something, and I was like `Oh my goodness. This is crazy.’ And then we had to just go play.”
Cairo said he spoke with La Russa and exchanged text messages Wednesday regarding the lineup and potential in-game matchups before he departed for Arizona.
“I’m going to be calling him whenever I can,” Cairo said. “I’m going to text or call and see how he’s doing. But he will be back.”
La Russa is in the second season of his second managerial stint with Chicago. The team began the year with championship aspirations, but it has been one of baseball’s biggest disappointments.
Heading into the second game of their series against the Royals, the White Sox had dropped five in a row to fall to 63-66. Chants of “Fire Tony! Fire Tony!” have been heard at Guaranteed Rate Field.
“I understand that we want to compete and win and prepare and do the best that we can, and that’s what we get paid to do,” reliever Kendall Graveman said. “But at the end of the day, there’s stuff that I feel is vital and way more important than playing the game of baseball.
“He needs to go be with his family and take care of himself in the moment. I am uncertain what’s going on with the details, but hopefully we’ll hear more in the future and it’s all good news going for him.”
La Russa, who is close friends with White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, was a surprise hire in October 2020, and he directed to the team to the AL Central title last year.
He started his managing career with the White Sox during the 1979 season. He won the World Series with Oakland in 1989 and St. Louis in 2006 and 2011.
La Russa and Sparky Anderson are the only managers to win the World Series in the American and National leagues.
La Russa was enshrined in Cooperstown in 2014. He got his first major league managing job at age 34 when the White Sox promoted him from Triple-A to replace the fired Don Kessinger. He took over that August and led them to a 522-510 record over parts of eight seasons.
“I can’t be Tony La Russa,” said Cairo, who played for La Russa with the Cardinals. “He’s a Hall of Famer. He’s got a lot of wins. But I’ve learned so much from him.”
Chicago also made four moves before Wednesday night’s matchup with Kansas City. Right-hander Lance Lynn was reinstated from the bereavement list, and catcher Yasmani Grandal was activated from the 10-day injured list. Left-hander Tanner Banks and catcher Carlos Perez were optioned to Triple-A Charlotte.
Grandal, 33, had been sidelined by a left knee strain. The switch hitter is batting .203 with three homers and 21 RBIs in 74 games this season.