White Sox star Abreu defends La Russa: 'I'm glad that he's our manager'
While the Hall of Fame skipper has faced increased criticism about his work with the struggling White Sox, the former AL MVP gave La Russa a vote of confidence Sunday, stating that the players love his leadership.
"They (the critics) are not in the clubhouse," Abreu told reporters, according to James Fegan of The Athletic. "They don't know how united or how good we are. Everybody knows we've been dealing with a lot of injuries. People don't know how you have to overcome those situations and being able to play every day. They don't know that. In order for them to blame Tony, that's easy. But they don't know how good we are in the clubhouse. We all support Tony because we all know at the end of the day it's our responsibility to perform on the field. It's not his responsibility.
"I can't tell you he's the best manager because I have to be respectful with the other two managers I played for in the majors. ... But I can tell you as a person, as a leader, he's all that you can ask for in a manager," Abreu added, per Scott Merkin of MLB.com. "I'm glad that he's our manager."
It's been a rough month for La Russa, who ranks second all time in managerial wins. The pressure was already mounting based on the underwhelming play of his White Sox; after coming into the year as the favorites to repeat as division champions, they entered play Sunday sitting one game below .500 and in third place.
La Russa's tactics have come under even more scrutiny of late. The 77-year-old was roundly criticized after he intentionally walked Los Angeles Dodgers star Trea Turner on a 1-2 count, a move that led to a three-run homer for L.A. Two days later, White Sox fans chanted "Fire Tony" at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Despite his apparent lack of popularity among fans on Chicago's South Side, La Russa is letting his players dictate his future in the White Sox dugout.
"You have to please the people that hired you and you have to please the fans who pay to watch your team play," La Russa said, according to Merkin. "But in the end, the opinion that means the most are the guys in the clubhouse. If they quit playing for you, I leave."