White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson is waiting to hear from Tony La Russa. When he does, Anderson, who hasn’t formed an opinion on his new manager, will be all ears.
“Um, I don’t know,” Anderson said Thursday when asked on a Zoom call for his reaction to La Russa being hired to manage the Sox after Rick Renteria was fired. “I don’t know, man. I’ve kind of been reading what’s been going on and kind of learning that way to get a better understanding. But I’m looking forward to learning from him.”
If La Russa were to call Anderson soon, a congratulatory message would be in order. Anderson, Jose Abreu and Eloy Jimenez all won Silver Slugger Awards on Thursday as the top offensive performers at each position in each league. Anderson and Jimenez won their first and Abreu his third as the Sox became the first team since the 2014 Red Sox to claim three honors in one year. That kind of offensive punch is one reason why La Russa, 76, jumped at the opportunity to return to managing after being out of it nine seasons.
It was a surprising hire, La Russa’s Hall of Fame career notwithstanding, and it immediately brought to mind the differences in La Russa’s old-school reputation and the bat-flipping, “Change the Game” message Anderson has trumpeted for the fun-loving Sox.
“There’s a lot of news saying we may not get along, but hopefully we can get along and continue to do what the ultimate goal is, to win a championship on the South Side,” Anderson said. “I’m just ready to pick his brain and learn the knowledge and just try to make this as smooth as possible. And just try to have fun with it. If he allows that.”
Anderson laughed as he finished the last sentence. And he said he won’t change the way he plays. Perhaps he heard La Russa speak highly of him in recent days. Perhaps he knows La Russa managed Rickey Henderson, Dave Henderson, Dennis Eckersley and others who played with flair.
And won with them.
“Nothing change, nothing change,” Anderson said. “Just keep having the same approach and keep having fun, and hopefully, you know, he can enjoy watching it, as well.”
The jovial Jimenez is right there with Anderson as a new-era, mug-for-the-camera player.
“What can I say? Tony is one of the greatest managers in the history of the game,” Jimenez said. “When I saw the news, I was excited to be managed by a guy like him. At the same time, it was kind of bittersweet news because I love Ricky, too.
“Ricky was a great man on and off the field. He helped me a lot. He gave me the confidence to go out and play. He helped me every day. I’m going to miss him, but business is business.”
Anderson did get a call from general manager Rick Hahn when Renteria was fired. It was “shocking,” but he came away “excited” about the direction the Sox are going.
Anderson said players whom La Russa managed have said he will love the new boss, but Sox players — some of whom joked about La Russa’s age when the news broke — will be in wait-and-see mode.
“We kind of don’t know,” Anderson said. “It’s so much news, negative and positive. It’s one of those things that’s in the air that we have to experience ourselves and see what type of manager he is and learn from him. It’s something we are looking forward to, and we are definitely kind of excited to see which way he’s going to go.”
As for La Russa’s age and time away from the dugout, Anderson didn’t seem concerned.
“No, he’s still been watching the game [in front-office jobs], so he pretty much does know what’s going on,” Anderson said. “It’s not like he’s got to get out there and play. All he has to do is just manage us, and I’m pretty sure he’s going to know how to do that. He’s in the Hall of Fame for a reason.”