OAKLAND, Calif. – Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa says he is recovering well from having a pacemaker inserted for his heart, and is uncertain when he will be medically cleared to run the club again.
La Russa was back with the White Sox in Oakland on Sunday to celebrate Dave Stewart having his No. 34 jersey retired by the Athletics. La Russa was there for the ceremony, but not to manage his team.
The Hall of Famer, who turns 78 on Oct. 4, shared specifics of the procedure with The Associated Press after discussing his absence before Chicago's series finale against the A's. He is grateful to have had what he considered a relatively “simple” heart issue.
“Health is nothing to mess with,” La Russa said, standing in the dugout wearing jeans, sneakers and a short-sleeve collared golf shirt. “So I got checked in Chicago and the reason that I flew to Arizona is that's been the place since the '90s I've had my physicals. They addressed it, they fixed it and now it's just a question of regaining strength.”
La Russa didn't want to miss the special day for Stewart, his longtime ace with the A's.
“It was an amazing bunch of years,” La Russa said of his stretch with Oakland from 1986-1995 that included the 1989 earthquake World Series sweep of the San Francisco Giants.
La Russa is uncertain when he will be in uniform again and back in the dugout. Bench coach Miguel Cairo has been leading the club during La Russa's nearly two-week absence.
He was set to manage the reigning AL Central champions on Aug. 30 before being pulled away by the medical staff.
“I'm glad to see him. He looks really good,” Cairo said. “I've been talking to him so I know how he feels and he's feeling good and he's smiling. I'm glad to see him. I know the whole team is glad to see him.”
The plan is for La Russa to fly home with the team Sunday, take Monday's team off day then see what's next — “I don't plan on being in uniform until the say it's time to put a uniform on.”
La Russa and Cairo have been speaking twice a day and La Russa watches every game from home until he is cleared to do more. He said he had an issue at spring training, too.
“I’ve had my issue fixed, I’m mending,” La Russa said. ”When it gets better at some point, I'll be strong enough to do a triathlon."
So, might he actually consider training for a triathlon?
“No chance,” La Russa said, grinning.
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