Tony La Russa: 'I Don't Have a Problem' with Twins Throwing Behind Yermin Mercedes

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIMay 19, 2021

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 17: Willians Astudillo #64 of the Minnesota Twins looks on after giving up a solo home run to Yermin Mercedes #73 of the Chicago White Sox in the ninth inning of the game at Target Field on May 17, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The White Sox defeated the Twins 16-4. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
David Berding/Getty Images

Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa said he doesn't have an issue with Minnesota Twins right-hander Tyler Duffey throwing a pitch low and away behind rookie superstar Yermin Mercedes on Tuesday.

White Sox Talk @NBCSWhiteSox

Tony La Russa's comments on the Twins throwing behind Yermín Mercedes: pic.twitter.com/dLe7Oriohk

"I wasn't that suspicious," La Russa told reporters in regards to whether he believed the pitch was thrown intentionally. "I'm suspicious when someone throws at someone's head. I didn't have a problem with how the Twins handled that."

Duffey was ejected for the pitch, which came one day after Mercedes swung on a 3-0 count and hit a home run off Twins utility player Willians Astudillo in the top of the ninth inning of Chicago's 16-4 win the night before.

Mercedes crushed that Astudillo offering to deep center field:

White Sox Talk @NBCSWhiteSox

Should have known we weren't getting out of here without a Yermínator dinger! pic.twitter.com/ncTXlGCfpa

Twins manager Rocco Baldelli didn't appear to take too kindly to Mercedes' swing when speaking with reporters the next day:

danhayesmlb @DanHayesMLB

Rocco Baldelli said given the context of the game, he was surprised to see Yermín Mercedes swing on a 3-0 pitch in Monday’s game. #MNTwins

But neither did La Russa, who went all-in on defending the unwritten rules of baseball over Mercedes. 

Scott Merkin @scottmerkin

La Russa said he gave the take sign to Mercedes on the 3-0 pitch. He made a mistake. There's a consequence he'll have to endure within the family, per La Russa. "He's not going to do that again," La Russa said. He said it's more about sportsmanship and respect.

No incidents happened during Mercedes' first three at-bats Tuesday before Duffey sent this pitch flying past the rookie:


Twins Pitcher Tyler Duffey has been tossed from the game after he threw a pitch behind Yermin Mercedes. <br><br>(via @NBCSWhiteSox) pic.twitter.com/vuA7ogfjpy

Duffey and Baldelli were both tossed.

La Russa didn't seem to believe that Duffey threw behind Mercedes on purpose, but White Sox pitcher Lance Lynn came to the rookie's defense.

James Fegan @JRFegan

Lance Lynn’s full comments when asked about Yermín Mercedes getting thrown at pic.twitter.com/CHy0H4gTE0

So did shortstop Tim Anderson:

James Fegan @JRFegan

Tyler Duffey has thrown at Tim Anderson in the past, and he pretty clearly just threw at Yermín Mercedes.<br><br>From the dugout, looks like Anderson remembers

Daniel Greenberg @ChiSportUpdates

Tim Anderson shares his thoughts on Instagram about Tony La Russa being upset with Yermin Mercedes. pic.twitter.com/3L89ohckBa

The same went for ex-White Sox skipper Ozzie Guillen, who now works for NBC Sports Chicago as an analyst:

NBC Sports Chicago @NBCSChicago

How would @OzzieGuillen have reacted if someone threw at his player? <br><br>"I'm not gonna put up with that." pic.twitter.com/uvkP4T7trH

For his part, Mercedes doesn't subscribe to the unwritten rules, saying this before Tuesday's game:

Chris Emma @CEmma670

Yermin Mercedes isn't here for the unwritten rules of baseball.<br><br>"I'm going to play like that. I'm Yermin. I can't be another person because if I change it, everything is going to change. ... We're just having fun. It's baseball." pic.twitter.com/WGf8ZyL2TN

Chicago led 4-0 Tuesday but allowed five runs thanks in part to Miguel Sano's three homers and lost 5-4. The 25-16 White Sox still own the American League's best record.