White Sox say they understand ‘seriousness’ La Russa case

FILE – In this July 22, 2014, file photo, Arizona Diamondbacks Chief Baseball Officer Tony La Russa smiles as he talks about his upcoming induction ceremony into the Baseball Hall of Fame during a news conference in Phoenix. La Russa, the Hall of Famer who won a World Series championship with the Oakland Athletics and two more with the St. Louis Cardinals, is returning to manage the Chicago White Sox 34 years after they fired him, the team announced Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020. (AP Photo/File)

CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago White Sox are sticking with new manager Tony La Russa for now, saying they understand the “seriousness” of his latest drunken driving case and will have more to say once it plays out in court.

“Tony deserves all the assumptions and protections granted to everyone in a court of law, especially while this is a pending matter,” the team said Thursday in a statement. “Once his case reaches resolution in the courts, we will have more to say. The White Sox understand the seriousness of these charges.”

La Russa, a Hall of Fame manager who won a World Series with Oakland and two more with St. Louis, blew out a tire on the grey Lexus he was driving in a collision with a curb that left the vehicle smoking when he was arrested on misdemeanor DUI charges in February, according to an affidavit filed by the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

The case was filed on Oct. 28 — one day before his hiring — after tests taken the night of his arrest showed his blood alcohol concentration was .095 — above the legal limit of .08. He has pleaded not guilty.

The White Sox were aware of the case when they hired him. They initially declined comment Monday, saying it was “an active case.”

La Russa pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in Florida in 2007 after police found him asleep inside his running sport utility vehicle at a stop light and smelling of alcohol.

La Russa was hired by Chicago in a surprise move after Rick Renteria was let go in what the team insisted was a mutual decision. He is friends with chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and started his managing career with the White Sox during the 1979 season.

The White Sox made the playoffs for the first time since 2008 and ended a string of seven losing seasons with a 35-25 record.

La Russa’s coaching staff, meanwhile, is starting to take shape.

The White Sox plan to hire Ethan Katz as their pitching coach, a person familiar with the situation said on Thursday. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the move has not been announced.

The 37-year-old Katz was White Sox ace Lucas Giolito’s pitching coach at Harvard-Westlake High School in Los Angeles with a staff that also included future major leaguers Max Fried and Jack Flaherty. He replaces Don Cooper, who had been pitching coach since July 2002 and spent more than three decades with the organization.

Katz coached in the Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners organizations before being hired by San Francisco in 2019 as as assistant minor league pitching coordinator. The Giants promoted him to assistant pitching coach last December.


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