White Sox manager Tony La Russa was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in February in the Phoenix area and was charged with DUI on the day before he was hired late last month — charges the Sox say they were aware of at the time.
La Russa, 76, was charged Oct. 28, and his hiring was announced the next day. Already an unpopular hire who raised concerns with fans despite his Hall of Fame résumé, La Russa’s second-drunken driving arrest — he pleaded guilty in 2007 to a misdemeanor DUI charge in Jupiter, Florida, while he was managing the Cardinals — won’t make the choice any more popular.
La Russa, who remained close friends with chairman Jerry Reinsdorf after the Sox fired him as manager in 1986, is replacing Rick Renteria, who was let go with a year left on his contract despite guiding the Sox to their first playoff appearance since 2008 this season. Renteria is up for American League Manager of the Year, which will be announced Tuesday. While he isn’t the favorite, Renteria is one of three finalists for the award.
ESPN on Monday, citing court records, first reported La Russa’s arrest. The report said La Russa crashed into a curb near Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport and had a ‘‘light odor of alcoholic beverage,’’ according to the peace officer responding to the call. La Russa was ‘‘argumentative’’ when taken into custody, the officer said.
Because the Sox knew about the arrest before hiring him, it’s safe to assume La Russa’s job is safe. It wasn’t immediately known whether he would face disciplinary action from Major League Baseball. The Sox hired La Russa after he had been away from managing since 2011, when he won the World Series with the Cardinals.
‘‘Because this is an open case, we cannot comment further at this time,’’ Sox spokesman Scott Reifert said via text message.
Reached by ESPN late Monday, La Russa said, ‘‘I have nothing to say,’’ and hung up.
La Russa was working for the Angels as a special adviser at the time of the arrest.
The case, which was filed by the Maricopa County Justice Courts, said La Russa was cited for registering a blood-alcohol content of .08 or more. If convicted, La Russa could face up to 10 days in jail.
In the case in 2007 in Florida, police found La Russa asleep and smelling of alcohol inside his running SUV at a stoplight.
‘‘I accept full responsibility for my conduct and assure everyone that I have learned a very valuable lesson and that this will never occur again,’’ La Russa said at the time.