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October 7, 2021

Tony La Russa

Houston, Texas, USA

Minute Maid Park

Chicago White Sox

Pregame 1 Press Conference

Q. How is José Abreu doing, and is he in today's starting lineup?

TONY LA RUSSA: We have two lineups posted. He says he's feeling good. He looks good, but we're going to test him, make sure, if he exerts himself, he responds well. Right now he doesn't have a fever.

So he's going to get in the cage, take some swings. We notified them. We showed them both lineups along with him in and him not. So we'll just have to wait till the practice is over to decide.

Q. Just talk about some of the tough decisions with the playoff roster with leaving off Dallas and also with Carlos being on. How is he kind of faring, and what's the preparation for how he might be used?

TONY LA RUSSA: When you have a season like ours that so many guys contributed, this roster was really difficult, and we had trouble with the 28. As you know, there were guys in Charlotte the last several weeks that would have loved to have had a round, and you had to cut it by two.

Part of it is it's the best of five, not the best of seven. That explains some of the pitching decisions. Player decisions, that was a tough call. So we ended up putting Mendick on the roster. He's so versatile. We thought we needed the protection because they're liable to play anywhere and everywhere.

I'll just tell you it's painful because there are some guys disappointed not to be on it. Some guys are happy to be on it. Like I said in the beginning, and I'll say it again, getting here was filled with contributions from guys who are not on the roster. That is not what should be different.

Q. Carlos is obviously on your ALDS roster. Is that an indication of how he's feeling, or are you still waiting to figure out what he can give you?

TONY LA RUSSA: It's actually part of the process more so the last half of the year. It's his first time pitching a lot, so we've been really, as you know, giving him a lot of extra rest, and he's responded sometimes really well. Other times, we had to back him off.

But he's taken the ball enough, and when he's taken it, he's been effective. He's throwing again today. Just want to keep our options open, and we'll see what happens the first two games how we go into the last three. The point is there's still a possibility that he could pitch for us, so we want to keep that alive.

Q. Obviously, you guys chase a lot and walk a lot. What about that makes you guys difficult to attack for a pitcher?

TONY LA RUSSA: I think the clubs are affected when we're playing against them. If you hit the ball in the strike zone, you're going to be effective. That means -- it's very popular now to throw balls -- strike the ball pitches. If you're chasing, it's not going to be effective. We really work on strike zone like a lot of clubs do.

When we're at our best, we're aggressive with balls that we recognize as strikes. When we do that, then the pitcher has to be careful, and that's where the walks come from because they're trying to nibble because we do have a dangerous lineup.

Walks and on base percentage has been important to us all year long, but the only way you get that is sometimes confused. It's not because you take strike one. Some of these guys, if they get the first strike, the at-bat is pretty much over. It's the concern on the other side, if we come after them aggressively early, they are going to be ready to do damage.

So we work at that. When we're at our best, we do really well. Sometimes we struggle because we're still learning.

Q. I know you were always trying to learn and improve as a manager. What is this group, these players, what have they taught you that has maybe made you better or that has helped you grow even at this stage in your career?

TONY LA RUSSA: I'd have to think about that to give you a really good answer. My first thought is I believe I've been mentored as well as anybody possible over many years. You start making the long list of people that have taught me stuff. I don't think they left much out.

But here I think probably you just recognize -- one reason to get excited is this club has a good cohesive togetherness based on last year. So that's why I say I walked into this stuff.

It's a very spirited bunch. And in the years past, we've had some clubs that had something like this, a vocal spirit, but this is a real spirited bunch all the time, from the minute you walk in the clubhouse to their pregame, during the game, after the game.

It's done a little quietly at times by José Abreu. It's done more noticeable by Tim. But the beautiful part about both those guys and the guys that are active, they're out here every day. To me one of the issues you get into, a lot of flash and dash and then you struggle and they disappear. These guys never disappear. They just say, hey, we'll get them tomorrow.

I think this year there's more good noise from the minute you start the day until it's over, and it never interferes with them competing.

Q. As a follow-up, the amount of information that's available to a manager now, have you found this year that it's helped you in tangible ways with game strategy in terms of adding to all your experience on the personal side of things too?

TONY LA RUSSA: I'll qualify it by saying, I mentioned, it might have been yesterday or before, our entire career we had coaching staffs that devoured information. In many cases like Charley Lau and Dave Duncan, they created it. Dave McKay, they created information just based on their expertise and their experiences. There is more detailed information that can be very helpful. It's been useful. We have a very good information department.

The thing that I like the most here is there's mutual respect between the information providers and the information users. It's really, really well balanced. We all respect each other.

But in the end, I think it helps the detail of preparation, but once the game starts, observational analytics still trumps everything. I haven't seen a formula yet that says I can measure the toughness of José Abreu or the winning spirit of Tim Anderson.

So it's men and their dynamic, and I guess the other team, one day the guy has a quick bat. Next time you see him -- it's a longwinded answer because there's really a lot of good stuff. I think in the coaching up of -- that's probably the best way to put it. In the coaching up of players and pitchers, there's a lot of valuable stuff now. In the actual game strategies, it only goes so far.

I mean, I watched the game last night, there were stolen bases. You're not supposed to be able to steal. It's a waste of time. I think there's not a big difference once the game gets started and you've done your preparation. Your preparation is better. Once the game starts, what the coaching staff observes or the manager observes, how you smell the game, whether it's a one run game or a crooked number game, those are decisions you make.

That's my answer. I don't know if I articulated it right, but it's a combination. Luckily, we have a staff -- Shelley Duncan, for example, has really been invaluable helping me, and he's connected with the players and the coaches. It's very coordinated. There's no what do I mean by that? It's worked well.

Q. We know Abreu is going to come in here and say he's ready no matter what, I'm sure you want him in there too. When you say two lineups, do you kind of mean one DH, one first base, or one that he's not even in the lineup?

TONY LA RUSSA: There's one lineup with him in it, and he's the DH. Just to show you, this guy's a beautiful, beautiful soul, boy. I mean, he's as beautiful a person as I've ever been around. That's tied for first with a lot of beautiful ones.

He didn't play Sunday, the last game of the season, because Saturday night we communicated and he told me he wasn't feeling well. So he knows what's at stake. He's going to try it in the practice, and then we're going to sit him down and see how he feels. I hope he plays if he's capable of playing, but definitely don't want him to play because he thinks he has to.

Q. Has he had to take any fluids? How has he sort of prepared in the last day or so? Also, to what degree does outcomes in the first two, maybe three games affect the way you might approach Game 4 and 5 in terms of starting pitching?

TONY LA RUSSA: Well, he's received expert care, and he's an excellent patient to a degree, but he's still stubborn. He hasn't denied the fact that he's got fever, and let's break the fever and do this. Our doctors and training staff have been all over it.

That's why I feel confident that he should be given the chance to workout because there's been good communication and they've seen him doing better and so forth.

If we were playing a three-game series in April and we were going to play the same team the next week, you're always watching the outcomes, looking forward. The fact that it's a playoff series, everything that happens, we're going to talk about, whether it's the pitching side or the hitting side. Our hitting versus their pitchers and vice versa. What are the outcomes? Up two, down two, tied 1-1 -- whatever you think, anybody that's paying attention that cares, we're going to have the same thoughts as you do. If you want to win the series, you look at what happens, and you figure what's next to the best of your ability.

So that's why we're not determining the third game pitcher.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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