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#pounditFriday, October 15, 2021

Tony La Russa stands by criticism of Yermin Mercedes home run

Tony La Russa

Tony La Russa had no problem with the Minnesota Twins throwing behind one of his players on Tuesday night, and the Chicago White Sox manager is standing by everything he has said about the situation.

Twins pitcher Tyler Duffey and manager Rocco Baldelli were ejected on Tuesday after Duffey intentionally threw a pitch behind White Sox slugger Yermin Mercedes (video here). The pitch was intended to send a message after Mercedes homered off of a position player in the ninth inning of Chicago’s 16-4 blowout over the Twins the night before. La Russa was asked after Tuesday’s game about Duffey throwing behind Mercedes, and he said he was fine with it.

“I don’t have a problem with how the Twins handled it,” La Russa said, via Ryan McGuffey of NBC Chicago.

That opinion was not shared throughout the White Sox’s clubhouse. Pitcher Lance Lynn said there are “no rules” when a team sends a position player to the mound. La Russa, however, said Tuesday that Mercedes would face internal consequences for swinging away in that situation.

La Russa spoke about the situation again on Wednesday. He reiterated that he believes Mercedes made a mistake.

“What did I say publicly? I said a young player made a mistake,” La Russa said, per McGuffey. “Which, by the way, he did and we need to acknowledge it. Did I say that he’s being ostracized? … I actually did it in a very positive way.

“I would be willing to bet there’s not anybody in that clubhouse that was upset that I mentioned that’s not the way we compete. … I walked around the clubhouse last night, the day before after the game, and nobody was giving me a Heisman.”

When asked specifically about Lynn defending Mercedes, La Russa had a very blunt response.

There were questions when the White Sox hired La Russa about whether he would be able to relate to younger players. It’s fair to wonder if the way he has handled Mercedes’ home run will lead to tension in the clubhouse.

For what it’s worth, some other pitchers around MLB defended Mercedes on social media.

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