Tony La Russa didn’t entirely mind being back at Oakland Coliseum.
“A lot of good memories,” said the winner of 798 games and one World Series as Athletics manager from 1986 to 1995.
But as the White Sox opened a three-game series with a 6-3 victory against the desperate A’s with untested right-hander Jimmy Lambert, who picked up the win after going five innings and allowing one run and three hits in his third career start, La Russa had rotation troubles on his mind.
Lance Lynn, on the injured list with inflammation in his right knee, is getting in bullpen work in Oakland, while Carlos Rodon skips another turn because of shoulder fatigue and soreness. Lucas Giolito, on the IL with a strained left hamstring, threw hard off flat ground Tuesday and felt “really good.”
All three could be back in the rotation in short order, but that’s easy for us to say.
“Our rotation was such an anchor,” La Russa said.
Giolito has his own Coliseum memories. Last postseason, he stood tall and delivered seven dominant innings as the Sox took a 1-0 lead in a best-of-three series. Alas, that’s where the good times ended.
“I feel like that was a winnable series for us, and it just didn’t work out,” he said. “The A’s played really well. [Closer Liam] Hendriks played really well. Now he’s on our team, which is helpful.
“It was a lot of fun to be in the playoffs, [but we] didn’t achieve what we wanted to. Going out in the first round is no fun. It’s just kind of motivation for this year.”
On that note, Giolito is feeling confident about his availability the rest of the way.
“I’ll have a chunk of starts before the playoffs,” he said. “It’s not like I’m just going in out of nowhere.”
He’s pretty sure the rotation will be OK, too.
“I think the injuries that we have, it’s good that we have them now and not three weeks from now,” he said. “It gives us time to get everything done that we need to get done, then hopefully everyone’s back and feeling really strong for the playoffs.”
That was scary
A hard foul ball off the bat of Andrew Vaughn in the second inning skipped off the warning track in front of the Sox’ dugout and hit Eloy Jimenez near his right knee. Jimenez — who missed the first 99 games while recovering from a torn pectoral tendon — fell to the dugout floor in pain for 40 seconds before sitting up. He returned to the game but left in the fifth with a bruised right knee. He is day-to-day.
Still getting after it
A few days after Hendriks called a big division lead “the worst thing you can have” because it’s easy for a team to let up — as Jose Abreu admitted the Sox did in 2020 — La Russa pushed back on the idea that it could be an issue for this team.
“We’ve really had, what, [only] a couple of series where we got swept?” he said. “I think that’s the consequences of how dedicated the club has been to each and every series, and that’s what we need to do the last 20-plus games we have. There are still a bunch of wins that we have to get. . . . [But] we haven’t really opened the door for anybody.”