White Sox's Tony La Russa Stands by Yermin Mercedes Criticism: 'Respect the Game'

Adam WellsMay 19, 2021

CHICAGO - APRIL 11:  Manager Tony La Russa #22 of the Chicago White Sox looks on against the Kansas City Royals on April 11, 2021 at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images)
Ron Vesely/Getty Images

Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa continues to insist Yermin Mercedes was in the wrong for swinging at a 3-0 pitch in the ninth inning of Monday's 16-4 win over the Minnesota Twins.

"Do you think you need more [runs] to win, you keep pushing," La Russa told reporters Wednesday. "If you think you have enough, respect the game and opposition. Sportsmanship.''

La Russa called the discussion around Mercedes' homer "much ado about a little bit." He added that he's not aware of any blowback from his players:

Daryl Van Schouwen @CST_soxvan

If there is blowback in White Sox clubhouse, Tony La Russa is unaware. "I'd be willing to bet there isn't anybody in that clubhouse that's upset that I mentioned that's not the way we compete.<br><br>"I walked around the clubhouse last night, and nobody was giving me the Heisman."

He also said his criticism of Mercedes has been done "in a very positive way."

"What did I say publicly? I said a young player made a mistake. Which, by the way, he did and we need to acknowledge it. Did I say that he's being ostracized?" La Russa said. 

La Russa also addressed comments made by White Sox ace Lance Lynn, who said: "If a position player is on the mound, there are no rules. Let's get the game over with. And if you have a problem with whatever happened, then put a pitcher out there. ... 

"The more I play this game, the more those [unwritten] rules have gone away."

La Russa said: "Lance has a locker. I have an office. ... I don't agree."

The Twins had conceded the game, using position player Willians Astudillo as their pitcher for the ninth inning to conserve the pitching staff.

La Russa told reporters prior to Tuesday's game that Mercedes "made a mistake" and "there will be a consequence that he has to endure here within our family."

Despite La Russa's position, the rookie explained he's not going to change the way he plays.

"I’m going to play like that," Mercedes told reporters. "I’m Yermin. I can’t be another person because if I change it, everything’s going to change."

Minnesota reliever Tyler Duffey responded in the seventh inning of Tuesday's game by throwing a pitch behind Mercedes. Duffey was promptly ejected.


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

White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson responded to an Instagram post by NBC Sports Chicago about the situation.

"The game wasn’t over! Keep doing you big daddy," Anderson wrote Tuesday.

Mercedes has been one of the best stories in Major League Baseball this season. The 28-year-old Dominican Republic native spent one year playing in an independent league and nine years in the minors before getting called up to the big leagues for a pinch-hit appearance in August.

The White Sox included Mercedes on their 26-man roster out of spring training. The designated hitter leads MLB with a .366 batting average, ranks sixth with a .414 on-base percentage and is 17th with a .567 slugging percentage.