“I’m really surprised that I’m getting so many questions on this,” La Russa said.
MINNEAPOLIS — Tony La Russa kept the conversation going about Yermin Mercedes swinging on a 3-0 count and launching a 429-foot homer against a position player in a blowout game two days ago, saying Wednesday he was surprised there’s so much talk about it and expressing no concern that calling out the rookie sensation is an issue in his clubhouse.
“I’d be willing to bet there isn’t anybody in that clubhouse that’s upset that I mentioned that’s not the way we compete,” La Russa said before the Sox played the host Twins Wednesday afternoon in the rubber game of a three-game series. “I walked around the clubhouse last night, and nobody was giving me the Heisman.”
One player declined to discuss La Russa’s comments but said, “I will say this: We all have each other’s backs. Everyone who wears our jersey is family.”
The Sox blew a 4-0 lead Tuesday night and lost 5-4. Twins righty Tyler Duffey threw behind Mercedes and was ejected along with Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, who apparently took issue — as La Russa did with his own player — for swinging on 3 and 0.
Pitcher Lance Lynn backed Mercedes saying unwritten rules are off when a position player is pitching.
“The more I play this game, the more those rules have gone away and I understand it,” Lynn said Tuesday. “The way I see it is for position players on the mound, there are no rules. Let’s get the damn game over with. And if you have a problem with whatever happens, then put a pitcher out there. That’s the way I see it. Can’t get mad when there’s a position player on the field and a guy takes a swing.”
La Russa did not agree Wednesday.
“Lance has a locker. I have an office,” La Russa said. “I don’t agree.”
It’s a sportsmanship issue for La Russa, who was trending on Twitter Wednesday but said he wasn’t aware of the widespread reaction — most of it objecting to La Russa’s take — is getting. La Russa apologized to the Twins, called out Mercedes publicly for missing a sign and stood by his belief that teams should call off the dogs when leading big late in games.
It’s an old school take that is hotly debated in a newer age of baseball.
“I’m really surprised that I’m getting so many questions on this,” La Russa said. ”Evidently there is some chatter about it. I’m not going to say it’s much ado about nothing, it’s much ado about a little bit. He [Mercedes] missed a sign.”
Mercedes, batting fourth in La Russa’s lineup again with Jose Abreu out, didn’t apologize Tuesday, saying he would continue to “be Yermin.” La Russa had no issue with that.
“If you ask him right now, he’s not going to tell you if the coach gives the take sign he’s going to decide to hit on his own,” La Russa said. “What he said was he has a flair when he plays.”