Reinsdorf stamps his mark on White Sox’ next phase with La Russa hire

Reinsdorf stamps his mark on White Sox’ next phase with La Russa hire

General manager Rick Hahn of the White Sox watches from a box as his team plays the Cleveland Indians at Guaranteed Rate Field on August 08, 2020. (Getty Images) | Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

There was no getting around it. This was chairman Jerry Reinsdorf’s hire.

There was no getting around it.

This was chairman Jerry Reinsdorf’s hire.

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn, upon firing manager Rick Renteria two and a half weeks ago, said the Sox would take time to search outside the organization for the best candidate who ideally would have recent championship experience, and with a young and talented roster coming off the franchise’s first playoff appearance since 2008 and its arrow pointing up, figured to attract the best candidates available.

But AJ Hinch, seemingly the cream of the crop, wasn’t even interviewed when the Sox’ interest zeroed in on 76-year-old Hall of Famer Tony La Russa, Reinsdorf’s longtime friend, upholding Reinsdorf’s history of keeping Sox managerial hires in the family.

“Quite frankly, as we talked a couple, three weeks ago when we initiated this process, this obviously played out a little differently than I initially described I thought it would for all of you,” Hahn said on the Zoom call introducing La Russa as the 41st manager in Sox history Thursday. “When we discovered, when Tony was receptive to Jerry’s original overtures about potentially coming back and taking this position, that changed the focus.”

Hinch interviewed with the AL Central rival Tigers on Thursday while Hahn was talking up La Russa, a hire that feels less than ideally aligned with a forward-thinking vision he mapped out for rebuilding the Sox starting with the Chris Sale trade. It’s known the front office was not in full lockstep with the hire, and one player, via text, expressed hesitancy about La Russa’s age.

While Hahn said he, vice president Ken Williams and Reinsdorf were all on the same page with the decision to hire La Russa, the chairman’s upper hand on this one was obvious to all.

“The ultimate decision about going with Tony — you’ve heard me say over the last several years on major decisions — that it’s about consensus,” Hahn said, “that it’s a conversation between the chairman, Kenny and myself and ultimately we come to a conclusion together.

“Sometimes it moves along more quickly, like when we talked about making the [$52 million] commitment necessary to sign a guy like Luis Robert. And sometimes it takes a little bit longer, like it perhaps does when you’re deciding the right time to pivot to a rebuild, as we did a few years back. But the one thing that’s consistent is that in the end, when the decision is made, we all are fully committed to making this where everything works in the best interest of the White Sox, and everyone’s on the same page when that final decision is made. And as someone who was in the room discussing that decision, I can tell you this was made with the intent solely on putting us in the best position to win championships.”

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