White Sox MVP José Abreu: Tony La Russa treated unfairly at times

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Vinnie Duber
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José Abreu: 'Sometimes, people are unfair' to Tony La Russa originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

No moment of Tony La Russa's second stint as White Sox manager has been without criticism.

But there was a lot more of it in recent days, at least nationally, as a pair of reports, one by ESPN's Jeff Passan and one by The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal, described supposed impatience with La Russa from certain people in the White Sox clubhouse.

José Abreu is not one of those people.

RELATED: La Russa in headlines, Hahn dubs Sox clubhouse 'outstanding'

Abreu has said for some time now that he was sold on La Russa joining the White Sox thanks to the stamp of approval from friend Albert Pujols, who of course spent years playing for La Russa as a St. Louis Cardinal. Abreu has said on multiple occasions that Pujols' insistence that Abreu would enjoy playing for La Russa has been proven correct.

And so it was Abreu rushing to the defense of his manager Tuesday, with La Russa in the spotlight thanks to those national reports and continued fan frustration with some of the skipper's in-game decisions over the first month-plus of the 2021 campaign.

"I think we are blessed to be managed by a guy like him, a Hall of Famer," Abreu said through team interpreter Billy Russo. "I think sometimes people are unfair with him, people like to criticize. It's not an easy job. If being a manager of a major league team would be an easy job, everybody could do it. But it's not. And I think he deserves a little more credit and respect.

"We support him. Sometimes you make decisions that probably don't go your way, but that is how it is. I support him, and I think we have to be glad to be on a team managed by him."

Abreu is a proud member of the White Sox organization, of course, as evidenced by his always making a point to thank the team and chairman Jerry Reinsdorf whenever he reaches a career milestone, a frequent occurrence. But his endorsement of La Russa is meaningful for a couple of reasons.

First off, Abreu is the unquestioned leader in the White Sox clubhouse, someone who team brass routinely describes as a model and a mentor to the younger players, who have taken to openly describing him as a father figure. Abreu even referred to himself using those exact words when discussing Luis Robert's injury Tuesday, saying, "You don't want any of your kids to go down."

Similarly, there has been no bigger advocate for the talent the White Sox rebuilding effort has yielded than Abreu. Not only has he vocally advertised how good these White Sox would one day be, but he has not been shy about sharing his excitement to be a part of brighter days on the South Side. Remember his decrees that he would re-sign himself if the White Sox didn't following the 2019 season?

Abreu is heavily invested in seeing the White Sox reach their championship potential. And while that's significantly more difficult now that Robert has joined Eloy Jiménez on the injured list, it's still Goal No. 1 for No. 79, and he believes La Russa can help the White Sox get there.

"Tony has managed for a very long time," Abreu said. "He (has) the (third) most wins in major league history (by a manager). He's a guy with a plan, and he always tries to put us in a good spot, to create a good atmosphere and to support us. I definitely think he's going to help us to go through this moment."

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