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White Sox say they ‘understand seriousness of charges’ against manager Tony La Russa

The White Sox issued their first formal statement Thursday on the DUI charges manager Tony La Russa is facing.

The hiring of Tony La Russa as manager continues to cause headaches for the White Sox.
The hiring of Tony La Russa as manager continues to cause headaches for the White Sox.
Matt Marton/AP

It took three days, but the White Sox issued a formal statement about DUI charges facing manager Tony La Russa on Thursday, one that recognized the gravity of their new manager’s arrest.

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

When first reported Monday night, the Sox said they would not comment “because this is an open case.”

The team came under fire for hiring the 76-year-old manager, a friend of chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, as manager while knowing La Russa had been arrested in February and was charged the day before unveiling him as the leader best equipped to take the team to the World Series.

La Russa blew a tire on the vehicle he was driving crashing into a curb that left the vehicle smoking and was arrested on misdemeanor DUI charges in February. He was charged by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office after tests taken the night of his arrest showed his blood alcohol concentration was 0.095 — above the legal limit of 0.08. He has pleaded not guilty.

La Russa pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in Florida in 2007.

The case will not be completed any time soon. The Maricopa County Courts system shows a pre-trial conference scheduled for Dec. 8.

“The legal process in Arizona, which began in February, has been delayed as a result of COVID-19,” La Russa attorney Larry Kazan said in a statement. “This matter should have come to a conclusion several months ago.

“The process is continuing, but my client, Mr. Tony La Russa, is entitled to all the assumptions and protections afforded to anyone facing an accusation. It would be unfair and unwise for anyone outside the process to reach conclusions based on limited information.

“Given the ongoing nature of the proceedings, it would be inappropriate to say anything further at this time. I have faith in our system of justice and look forward to working within that system on behalf of my client.”