White Sox say La Russa will not return to dugout this season

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CHICAGO – Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa will not return to the dugout this season.

La Russa, who turns 78 on Oct. 4, had “additional testing and medical procedures over the past week,” the team said, and doctors have directed the Hall of Famer to stay away from managing for the rest of the season.

Bench coach Miguel Cairo will continue to serve as acting White Sox manager.

“Right now the focus is on his health,” general manager Rick Hahn said when asked if La Russa still wants to manage.

La Russa left the White Sox before an Aug. 30 game against Kansas City to deal with a heart issue. He rejoined the club in Oakland on Sept. 11 and flew back to Chicago for a two-game series against Colorado.

La Russa was waiting for clearance to return to the dugout and managing during games. Chicago lost to Detroit 7-2 on Saturday night.

“We are going to continue to follow his wishes of keeping much of the specific details and his personal information quiet,” Hahn said Saturday. “I did speak to him on the way in this morning, and he had no issue with us letting everybody know that there is a treatment protocol in place that he plans on adhering to. As a result, he won’t be managing the remainder of this season.

“As for the inevitable question, `Well what does that mean for next season?’ We are going to finish up this season first and then address everything when it’s appropriate to turn the page at the end of this year.”

Cairo said he spoke to La Russa for about 15 minutes on Friday night, and he was doing well. When asked if he wants the managerial job, Cairo said he is focused on the current season.

“Right now we’ve got 11 more games,” Cairo said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. He’s got one more year.”

“I talked to the players today, I let them know and it’s 11 more games,” said Cairo, who was the bench coach. “Let’s finish strong.”

The White Sox won 10 of their first 14 games under Cairo but have dropped five straight to tumble to a season-high nine games behind AL Central leader Cleveland.

“Miggy and the coaches have done a very fine job,” Hahn said. “We’ve seen at various stretches, unfortunately not over the last four days or so, but for extended stretches over the last few weeks, this team showing flashes of playing at the level we thought was capable over the course of the entire season. It’s a little too little too late over the course of the year.

“But I think those guys deserve a lot of credit for what was thrust upon them on the fly and the way they responded, both in the coaches room and the way they responded.”

The White Sox began the season with high hopes of defending their division title under La Russa.

“He’s a Hall of Famer,” outfielder Eloy Jimenez said. “He impacted every way in the clubhouse. For us, he wasn’t available to be there for those games that we were playing, and he’s battling for his life, so it’s not good. That’s all I can say right now.”

Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said La Russa’s health is the “No. 1 concern.”

“These are stressful jobs; you can’t take your health for granted,” Hinch said. “We as men in this sport often don’t ask for help, so I’m glad he’s good. On the managing side of it, he’s a Hall of Famer. He’s done everything any of us who have ever had this position would dream of doing. His accomplishments across different teams, different leagues, different jobs in his role in baseball and the number of players he’s touched, staff he’s developed, his resume speaks for itself, and his impact in the game should be forever respected.”

The White Sox also made several roster moves. Outfielder Luis Robert will be shut down for the season because discomfort in his sprained left wrist has worsened after he was hit by a pitch, Hahn said. Chicago placed Robert on the 10-day injured list Saturday. Outfielder Mark Payton was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte.

Reliever Joe Kelly was reinstated from the family medical leave list, and left-hander Tanner Banks was optioned to Charlotte.

Shortstop Tim Anderson could return this season after he went on the injured list for a sagittal band tear in his left middle finger Aug. 9, Hahn said. Anderson was expected to miss six to eight weeks.

“It’s really a question of does it make sense at this point in the year to try to rush into that two-week window or let nature take its course and send him into the offseason fully healed,” Hahn said.

Right-hander Michael Kopech‘s right shoulder is doing well, but the White Sox have discussed when a cyst in his knee will be removed, Hahn said. Kopech went on the 15-day injured list for right shoulder inflammation Sept. 17.

Phillies, RHP Taijuan Walker reportedly agree to 4-year deal

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SAN DIEGO – The active Philadelphia Phillies added Taijuan Walker to their rotation on Tuesday, agreeing to a $72 million, four-year contract with the right-hander.

A person familiar with the negotiations confirmed the move to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it was pending a physical.

It was the second major free-agent score for the Phillies at the winter meetings after they reeled in shortstop Trea Turner on Monday with a $300 million, 11-year deal. Walker and Turner join a Phillies team that made it to the World Series this year before losing to the Houston Astros.

The 30-year-old Walker went 12-5 with a 3.49 ERA in 29 starts this season for the New York Mets, one of Philadelphia’s biggest NL East rivals. He slots into a rotation fronted by Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola.

The Phillies recently lost pitcher Zach Eflin in free agency to Tampa Bay.

Asked about the market for Walker earlier in the day, agent Scott Boras said it was robust.

“As you can see in the marketplace, there’s a whole number of pitchers that are throwing 60 and 70 innings that have been pursued, probably with the exception of (Jacob) deGrom, at the lower end of threshold around $13-15 million a year because the demand for quality pitching is so great,” Boras said.

“So, Tai … is one of the younger ones, one of the more durable ones and we expect him to be pursued greatly as his market unfolds.”

Walker was selected by Seattle with the No. 43 pick in the 2010 amateur draft. He made his big league debut with the Mariners in 2013.

Walker signed with New York as a free agent in February 2021. He turned down a $7.5 million player option last month in favor of a $3 million buyout, making his deal worth $17 million over two seasons.

The 6-foot-4 Walker made the All-Star team for the first time in 2021, putting together a fast start before fading to a 7-11 record with a 4.47 ERA in 30 games, 29 starts.