CHICAGO – Tony La Russa’s advice to Robin Ventura would be to hang tough and let the length of the season be your ally.
The former White Sox manager was at U.S. Cellular Field on Saturday to help celebrate the 30th anniversary of his “Winning Ugly” team, but said he only talked briefly with the current manager, whose team has lost 10 of 11 and is in last place.
The White Sox started slow in 1983, just like this year's team has, before going on a winning run by using a brand of baseball that wasn’t always pretty to watch but ended up being effective.
La Russa wasn’t about to advocate using the 1983 team's style, but he felt the current squad could still be effective nonetheless.
“I mean, one of the beauties is the season is it’s six months if you are good, and they are good enough, they have plenty of time,” said La Russa, who managed for 33 seasons, including a 16-season stint with the Cardinals that ended in 2011. “You just can’t get discouraged and you can’t try to fix it all in one day. Just do the right thing bit by bit and it gets better. But you could be on top of the league, 20 over, check the book, and they don’t win a lot of times.”
La Russa and White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf remain as close as brothers, so obviously is going to be pulling for the White Sox. His assessment of the team sounded genuine, though.
“It’s a test over six months,” La Russa said. “They have a great attitude here, a good coaching staff. Robin is solid. They will be fine.”
La Russa and Ventura were never in the same organization so they never developed a relationship, but their paths crossed often, obviously.
“I remember in 2000 the Mets beat us and went to the World Series,” La Russa said. “I always respected and admired him, but we were never with the same team. And as you know, it was our family against their family so if you weren’t in the right family, I wasn’t the nicest guy around.”
La Russa, who said he would still be around Sunday, said he was open to having a conversation with Ventura if the time permitted.
“The thing about it that is kind of overrated, when you have a quality coaching staff, those are the guys you talk to,” La Russa said. “I saw the club on TV, I read about them. If there is a general question anybody wants to ask, you can give them a general answer. But he answers come from the guys who are watching every day, the guys who are working with the guys every day and they are plenty good that way.”