Tony La Russa will manage against his former team for the first time when the Chicago White Sox welcome the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday night to begin a three-game series.
La Russa won three National League pennants and two World Series championships with the Cardinals from 1996 to 2011. He decided to leave the dugout after St. Louis beat the Texas Rangers to clinch World Series title, but a decade later he is back in uniform as manager of the White Sox.
La Russa, 76, has more managerial wins with the Cardinals (1,408) than with any other team. He ranks third all-time with 2,754 career victories, trailing only Connie Mack (3,731) and John McGraw (2,763) — both, as he is, are in the Hall of Fame.
How does La Russa feel about managing against his former team?
“Recognize the birds on the bat,” La Russa said. “I don’t mean this disrespectfully, but once you prepare for the game, once you play the game, you’ve got to tune out the distraction. It’s a good distraction, but you’ve got to tune it out. I’m sure they will, too.”
Another former Cardinal, veteran right-hander Lance Lynn, is expected to start for the White Sox. Lynn (4-1, 1.55 ERA) has been tremendous in his first seven outings with Chicago, walking 12 and striking out 46 in 40 2/3 innings. Opponents are hitting only .183 against him.
Lynn started his career with St. Louis and pitched there from 2011 to 2017, with the exception of the 2016 season that he missed because of injury. He went 72-47 with a 3.38 ERA in 183 games (161 starts).
This will be the second time Lynn has pitched against the Cardinals. He first did so in 2018, allowing three runs on four hits in three innings to take the loss.
St. Louis will counter with left-hander Kwang Hyun Kim (1-1, 2.73 ERA), who is set to make his seventh start. He is looking to bounce back from his first loss of the season after giving up four runs (one earned) on two hits in 3 1/3 innings against the San Diego Padres on May 16.
This will be Kim’s first meeting against the White Sox in his career.
The Cardinals are coming off a 2-1 loss against the Chicago Cubs on Sunday night. One day earlier, the team watched right-hander Miles Mikolas exit his first start of the season because of forearm tightness. He’s been placed on the 10-day IL.
St. Louis manager Mike Shildt praised his team for its grit, which he said would be needed.
“Winners find solutions,” Shildt said. “You can complain about, ‘We don’t have X, Y and Z,’ and that would be real, but the fact of the matter is nobody cares and you have to go out and play a game. We’ve got players that can step up and find a way to get it done, that’s the mindset.”
La Russa is an admirer of Shildt, whom he came to know during his time with the franchise.
“Mike Shildt came in the organization in player development and over the years watched him grow, minor league manager of the year, and really, really impressed,” La Russa said. “No surprise that he’s successful as a manager because you watched him go from rookie to A-ball and so forth, Double-A won the championship. He has a knack of guys responding to his leadership.”
–Field Level Media