Tim Anderson: White Sox players, Tony La Russa 'getting along'

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TA assures Sox players, La Russa 'getting along just fine' originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Have no fear, White Sox fans. This team isn't going to let a difference of opinion get in the way of its World Series goals.

Tony La Russa has been the story of baseball for days now, his comments on Yermín Mercedes' 3-0 home run against the Minnesota Twins on Monday night covering multiple news cycles, even while two no-hitters have been thrown and Shohei Ohtani continues to do ridiculous Shohei Ohtani things for the Los Angeles Angels.

The noise has grown so loud on Twitter and in national writings that wild speculation has bubbled up suggesting La Russa's staunch beliefs on respecting one's opponent will bring the White Sox much ballyhooed clubhouse culture crashing down.

RELATED: TA: Twins' throw behind Mercedes 'a sign of weakness'

It simply is not the case.

Lucas Giolito, the ace of the starting staff, made that clear in his postgame media session Wednesday, assuring the strength of the bonds between White Sox players after delivering a dominant performance against the Twins.

Tim Anderson took his turn Friday, beginning the team's weekend stay in New York with an emphatic declaration that just because La Russa has been painted as against the kind of fun-loving baseball evolution that Anderson stands for — which is not an entirely accurate portrayal — doesn't mean that the White Sox have been knocked off their championship path.

"It don't matter. Everybody's got an opinion," Anderson said. "We know what we like to do, we like to have fun. We're not trying to really worry about the outside world. ... At the end of the day, we're going to go out and play the way that we want to play. We're going to enjoy it and have fun with it. That's how we're at our best, when we're enjoying the game.

"We're not going to always agree, and that's OK. But we just keep moving and keep playing. And (La Russa) knows that. We're not going to always be on the same page, but at the end of the day we've all got to go out and get a win. ... It's OK to disagree from each other, but we're all definitely pulling from the same string."

It should come as a refreshing assurance to fans who smashed the panic button when La Russa took to the pregame and postgame microphone in recent days. That fear was fanned by players' activity on social media and in their own postgame commentary.

Anderson rushed to Mercedes' defense on Instagram. Lance Lynn dismissed the unwritten "don't swing 3-0 in a blowout" rule, considering the Twins had a position player on the mound throwing 47 miles an hour. Giolito, after describing the tightness of the White Sox clubhouse, voiced his opinion — and seemingly spoke for the team — saying, "We like home runs here."

But any suspected clubhouse chaos wasn't really there. A smiling La Russa popped up in Yoán Moncada's live stream of the team's themed road trip. Then Anderson gave the feelings words Friday.

"For us, it's OK," Anderson said. "Tony's like the dad, we're like his kids. We're like the bad kids that don't listen."

And though some furrowed their brows when La Russa used language like, "You remind them you’ve got the office and they’ve got the lockers," harder evidence of any serious clash was nowhere to be found, with the South Side skipper flashing a big grin when Anderson's comments were brought up Friday.

"I think any father would like being a dad of a son like Tim because his 'bad' just means he went from very, very good to just good. There's no bad with Tim," La Russa said. "That's why I made it a point to explain the 3-0 deal. Once they understood it, I think it's just a matter of opinion, but they knew where I was coming from and I was coming from a place that truly meant to protect our team."

Fears that La Russa wouldn't be able to mesh with fun-loving players like Anderson have persisted since his hiring was announced, and certainly those fears colored the reaction to the events of this week. But such an incompatibility has never materialized. Anderson's complimented La Russa's managerial style at every turn, saying he's allowed White Sox players to be themselves.

For as much time has been spent on La Russa being upset with Mercedes, it wasn't because he's hoping to snuff the fun and personality out of Mercedes' playing style, more that he missed a sign in what he viewed as a bad situation.

"When he got set for that 3-0 pitch, I said, 'Wow, he didn't see that sign,'" La Russa said. "That's when I came out of the dugout. So it wasn't anything that he was flaunting the sign and being disrespectful. He just made a mistake because he was locked in and trying to get a base hit against his compadre there. And that's why I said that it's a mistake that's correctable."

And so while the latest debate over the old-school and new-school approaches to the game has swirled around the new-style White Sox and their accomplished Hall-of-Fame manager, fears of an irreparable clubhouse rift seemingly need not exist — something, of course, that winning certainly helps with.

After all, La Russa was brought in for a reason: to lead the White Sox to a World Series championship. These players and this manager won't let their objective be derailed by noise, no matter how loud.

"It's really just noise," Anderson said. "The clubhouse is great. Everybody is happy, everybody is enjoying the moment.

"The ultimate goal is to get wins, and everybody is really pulling from the same string. Everybody gets along. Regardless of what Tony said to the media, he's still our manager. We're getting along just fine. He's going to put us in the best position to be successful. That's what he's been doing."

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