Everything should be perfect on the South Side of Chicago. At 25-16, the Chicago White Sox have one of the best records in baseball, and have accomplished that despite losing Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert for significant time. After rebuilding for years, this should be the only thing anyone in the city is talking about.
Instead, the team's 76-year-old manager has taken the focus away from its sensational performance. Tony La Russa continued to risk alienating his clubhouse by doubling down on his comments regarding rookie Yermin Mercedes' home run in a blowout win over the Minnesota Twins on Monday.
Despite Mercedes playing for the White Sox, La Russa has gone out of his way to criticize Mercedes, even saying Mercedes would face punishment for the home run — which came on a 3-0 count with utility player Willians Astudillo on the mound.
La Russa stood by those words again Wednesday, saying he didn't think anyone in the clubhouse disagreed.
“I’m willing to bet there wasn’t anyone in that clubhouse that’s upset that I mentioned that’s not the way we compete” said Tony La Russa about yesterday’s comments
— James Fegan (@JRFegan) May 19, 2021
La Russa also lobbed some weird, authoritative words at Lance Lynn on the issue.
But I did like this line today, when told Lance Lynn basically said 'all bets are off' with a position player out there, lets get the game over with.
Tony: "Lance has a locker, I have an office."
Tony is either really tight with these guys or…..fill in the blank
— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) May 19, 2021
White Sox players tell a different story on social media
La Russa may think he has the White Sox's clubhouse behind him, but social media tells a different story. Both Tim Anderson and Mercedes sent out messages suggesting they weren't paying too much credence to La Russa's words.
Yeah yeah brotha??
— yermin mercedes (@ymercedes73) May 19, 2021
Anderson also defended Mercedes on Instagram on Tuesday.
Tim Anderson shares his thoughts on Instagram about Tony La Russa being upset with Yermin Mercedes. pic.twitter.com/3L89ohckBa
— Daniel Greenberg (@ChiSportUpdates) May 18, 2021
Mercedes also put up an image on his Instagram story stressing the importance of being himself.
(via ymercedes73/Instagram) pic.twitter.com/eu1kkvTc1T
— Sox On 35th (@SoxOn35th) May 19, 2021
Mercedes has since gone private on Instagram.
Those messages don't criticize La Russa directly, though Anderson and Mercedes make it clear they don't agree with their manager's ideology.
None of this bodes well for La Russa. Anderson is one of the team's best players and its most recognizable national superstar. Mercedes is only a rookie, but he's been arguably the best hitter on the White Sox this season.
Those voices —especially Anderson's — carry significant weight in the clubhouse. La Russa may want to consider that the next time he decides to weigh in on Mercedes' home run.
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