Is it bad when your manager doesn’t know the rules? If we try to be fair to Tony La Russa, this is the first season this ridiculous extra-innings rule was put in place with the NL not having a DH, and La Russa doesn’t manage an NL club.
Here’s how ESPN’s Jesse Rogers broke it down:
La Russa said he didn’t fully know the extra-inning rule that would have allowed him to avoid using closer Liam Hendriks as a baserunner in a 0-0 game against the Reds on Wednesday in Cincinnati. Hendriks had double-switched into the game in the bottom of the ninth inning, taking the No. 5 spot in the batting order, which made the last out in the top of the frame. Per MLB rules, as extra innings begin, the spot in the order to make the last out in the previous inning becomes the baserunner at second base. However, if that spot is occupied by a pitcher, the team has the option to use the preceding player in the batting order as the runner. In this case, it would have been Jose Abreu.
“I didn’t know that,” La Russa said after the game. “We all thought Liam was going to be the runner. I wasn’t aware Abreu could have run. I thought it was the guy that made the last out or the spot in that order.”
Perhaps he was just unlucky in that he was the first AL manager to have to deal with this, and any other one that would have found themselves in this spot would have made the same mistake of not knowing what a double switch in extras means.
What’s more worrying for the White Sox is that either whatever checks they have on La Russa, i.e. his coaching staff, to help navigate a game he’s been away from (at least out of the dugout) all failed, or they don’t have any at all. Miguel Cairo, the bench coach? Did he know or was he afraid to say anything? Ethan Katz, the pitching coach?
Of course, the mistake is letting Billy Hamilton bat at all, but that seems like one La Russa is hell-bent on making anyway.