Tony La Russa has caught a lot of flack over the past couple of weeks. Deservedly so. His team is fresh off an eight-game losing streak. During that skid there have been questionable lineup decisions, defensive lapses, lack of energy and mental errors abound. Some of these things are a direct reflection on the manager.
La Russa has taken some heat for the White Sox’s poor play but the criticism hasn’t just come from fans. There have been some quotes from members of the organization that raise some eyebrows.
After an extra-innings loss to the Minnesota Twins, general manager Rick Hahn expressed frustration at La Russa’s decision to pitch to Byron Buxton with the game on the line. Buxton wound up hitting a 469-foot moon shot to win the game. Buxton was hitting .351 with a 1.361 OPS at the time and had a home run in the eighth innings.
“I’ve got opinions on that, and those involved in the decision making,” Hahn told reporters on the Monday following the loss. “We have those conversations internally and talk things through as a group and again, ultimately, hopefully, give Tony and the coaching staff the best information to make the right decision.”
While that decision can be debated La Russa’s most curious decisions came on April 20th and 21st against the Cleveland Guardians when he penciled in Leury Garcia as the number three-hitter.
It’s no secret that La Russa is fond of Garcia. Garcia emerged as a staple of La Russa’s lineups. He scolded reporters last season for referring to him as a utility player. However, Garcia had the worst OPS of anyone in the Chicago White Sox lineup. He also happened to have the worst career OPS of anyone in the lineup. On April 20th he had a batting average of .077.
It was a head-scratching decision, to say the least. The move was so bad that even Garcia thought it was a joke.
“I thought he was playing with me. I thought it was a joke. After the first inning, it’s the same. So, I don’t think about it … I don’t really care where I’m at in the lineup. I just want to be in the lineup, be in the game and try to win,” Garcia said.
The White Sox lost both games and Garcia went one for six with two walks and a strikeout. One would think this would be the last time we see Garcia in the three-hole. But given the way the season has gone, nothing can be ruled out.