White Sox manager La Russa: 'I'm going to show them that they can trust me'
On the attention front, the White Sox are hoping this season's focus is fixated on a winning team that is just getting started on an extended run of success.
"As we sit here today, the goal is to win a World Series championship," general manager Rick Hahn said Wednesday, the first day of spring training for Sox pitchers and catchers. "If we fall short of that, it would be a disappointment. Of all days, especially on the first day of camp, not to mention what we've all been through for the last several years preparing to get to this point, I think having championship aspirations is to be expected and what people want."
In the weeks and months ahead, seeing if the White Sox can meet and even exceed the already high expectations will get the bulk of the headlines.
Right now, Tony La Russa taking over as manager is attracting most of the attention.
Yes, he is a Hall of Famer and three-time World Series champion manager.
But La Russa is 76 years old, he hasn't been in the dugout since 2011 and he was arrested on charges of driving under the influence for the second time last February.
"I'm starting at zero as far as respect," La Russa said after the Sox's first workout.
La Russa first publicly apologized about the latest DUI in December, and he expressed similar sentiments from Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz., Wednesday.
"I think the message is straightforward and that is, if you have a drink, you don't drive," he said. "If you make that mistake, then you own up to it and you face the consequences. The family atmosphere is one that is based on earning respect and trust, and I couldn't earn trust unless I was honest about what happened.
"The true family cares, we all care for each other. It's something that's been consistent in my other managing situations. I've said many times publicly, it isn't the career wins that I enjoy, I enjoy the family relationships with the White Sox guys and the A's and the Cardinals. We're going to build it here, and I'm going to show them that they can trust me. I have a goal of making them respect me because I can help them, and I'll show that I care for them."
According to a USA Today story that ran Wednesday, La Russa told White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf about last year's arrest when he was being interviewed to replace Rick Renteria. Reinsdorf did not share that information with Hahn or anyone else in the organization.
"I'm sure Jerry must have told Rick and (Sox VP) Kenny (Williams)," La Russa said after noting he did not read the USA Today story. "I just know I let them know it was back in February (2020) and I let them know. He and they decided to stay with me."
When asked about possibly being left in the dark about La Russa's arrest, Hahn opted to look forward.
"As I sit here today, a day when there's optimism and excitement and we're back together, same place for the first time in a while and we have World Series aspirations, I'm not that interested in sort of going through the hiring process and decision and communication of the internal elements of that," Hahn said. "Honestly, the last few months working with Tony, I've gotten more and more excited about where this team is headed and what he's going to contribute.
"My focus is not on rehashing something that happened four or five months ago, it's about the excitement that we feel as we get ready to try to win a championship. Honestly, that's as candid as I can be about the thing."