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White Sox manager La Russa steps down due to health issues

Julio Aguilar / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa announced he's stepping down from his position due to health concerns.

In a statement released Monday, La Russa said he had an issue fixed in the spring relating to a pacemaker installed in February. A second issue with the pacemaker was discovered on Aug. 30, prompting him to leave the team on doctor's orders. He was never medically cleared to return, leaving bench coach Miguel Cairo to serve as acting manager.

"At no time this season did either issue negatively affect my responsibilities as White Sox manager," La Russa said in the statement. "However, it has become obvious that the length of the treatment and recovery process for this second health issue makes it impossible for me to be the White Sox manager in 2023. The timing of this announcement now enables the front office to include filling the manager position with their other offseason priorities."

The soon-to-be 78-year-old's surprising comeback started strong, as he led the White Sox to a division title last year. It also marked the first time the franchise reached the playoffs in consecutive seasons in its 121-year history.

But the club's fortunes took a downturn in 2022 despite entering as a favorite to win the division. The White Sox struggled to stay above .500 all year, and La Russa shouldered the blame for his team's disappointing campaign as his managerial tactics were often criticized - most notably when he called for an intentional walk on a 1-2 count.

"Our team's record this season is the final reality. It is an unacceptable disappointment," he said. "There were some plusses, but too many minuses.

"In the major leagues, you either do or you don't. Explanations come across as excuses. Respect and trust demand accountability, and during my managerial career I understood that the ultimate responsibility for each minus belongs to the manager. I was hired to provide positive, difference-making leadership and support. Our record is proof. I did not do my job."

Chicago was met with significant criticism when initially hiring La Russa in the winter of 2020. Despite his stellar resume, his decade away from the dugout led many to suggest he'd be out of touch with today's game, and a DUI arrest in Arizona shortly before he took the job only further clouded his return.

As the White Sox struggled, he became a target for frustrated fans, who began chanting "Fire Tony" at home games. La Russa indicated Monday that the taunts didn't anger him and saluted White Sox fans for creating "the most electric crowd I ever experienced" during last year's playoffs.

La Russa, who began his career managing the White Sox in 1979, compiled a combined 694-659 record over his two stints with the club (games played under acting manager Cairo are officially credited to La Russa's record). He now ranks third in franchise history in both wins and games managed.

Over his 35-year managerial career with the White Sox, Oakland Athletics, and St. Louis Cardinals, La Russa collected 2,900 wins, ranking second all time. He also won 13 division titles, six pennants, and three World Series titles and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2014.

White Sox manager La Russa steps down due to health issues
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