White Sox players might not see eye to eye with manager Tony La Russa’s stance on the unwritten rules of baseball, but it’s not a big enough deal to divide a clubhouse that shortstop Tim Anderson said remains strong.
La Russa, 76, called out Yermin Mercedes for missing a take sign and hitting a homer on a 3-0 pitch against the Twins Monday. La Russa explained his position to the team. And everything is cool, Anderson.
“For us, it’s OK,” said Anderson, the vocal leader and the most prolific “Change The Game” face of the Sox franchise. “Tony is like the dad, we’re like his kids. We’re like the bad kids that don’t listen. But we all get along.”
And they’re all winning together, which is what matters more than anything.
“So we’re just going to keep pushing and he knows,” Anderson said. “We’re going to go out and play and have fun. The ultimate goal is to get wins and enjoy the game. Hopefully we can just keep pushing and move on past this.”
Welcoming back reigning MVP Jose Abreu after he missed the Twins series with a inflammation in his ankle, the Sox entered a weekend series against the Yankees with the best record in the American League. The widespread commotion throughout baseball caused by La Russa apologizing to the Twins for Mercedes’ homer should be quieting down any day now after a five-day news cycle.
When the Sox caused a commotion by hiring La Russa out of retirement last offseason, how he would mesh with the new breed of player — Anderson in particular because of his fun-loving, bat flipping style — was an instant concern. But so far, it remains a non-issue.
“It’s really just noise,” Anderson said. “That goes for people that don’t really know me, for me to not get along with him. I get along with everybody. The clubhouse is great. Everybody is happy, enjoying the moment.
“Regardless of what Tony said to the media, he’s still our manager. We’re getting along just fine. He’s going to put us in the best position to be successful. That’s what he’s been doing.”
The Sox entered Friday with a 26-16 record, winners in 10 of their last 13 games and leading the majors with a plus-73 run differential. They had outscored their opponents 88-43 in their last 15 games.
Told that Anderson described him as a dad, La Russa smiled.
“Well, I think any father would like being a dad of a son like Tim because his bad just means he went from very, very good to just good,” La Russa said. “There’s no bad with Tim.
“That’s why I made it a point to explain the 3-0 deal. Once they understood it, it’s just a matter of opinion, but they knew where I was coming from and I was coming from a place that truly meant to protect our team.”
Presumably to protect players from getting thrown at, which is what Twins pitcher Tyler Duffey and manager Rocco Baldelli did anyway and got fined and suspended for Thursday. Mercedes took a fastball thrown behind him the day after his controversial homer.
“The Twins throwing, it’s definitely showing a sign of weakness,” Anderson said. “You got a guy [Mercedes, a rookie] who has been playing really well. He doesn’t know better in that situation. There’s really no right or wrong.”
Anderson and teammates are supporting Mercedes to keep his confidence from wavering, “because at the end of the day, it’s really about us,” Anderson said. “We are trying to win. That’s really about it.
“We’re not going to always agree, and that’s OK.”