White Sox' Tony La Russa explains thoughts on Trea Turner intentional walk

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Inside Tony La Russa's decision-making philosophy originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

After a night’s rest, Tony La Russa stands by his decision to intentionally walk Trea Turner with a 1-2 count, once a wild pitch opened up first base. La Russa once again cited Turner’s impressive numbers over the past few seasons when hitting with two strikes and against lefties. He cited Muncy’s down year, too. But La Russa also shed some light on how he makes decisions like that, using an old baseball adage he learned from former White Sox manager Paul Richards.

“Trust your gut, you don’t cover your butt. Because if you make moves to cover your butt, and they usually don’t work and you get fired, you’ll never know if you’re good enough.”

La Russa’s understanding from 30 years of managing in the big leagues is that no matter the decision, if things work out the decision will earn praise. If they don’t, they’ll be second-guessed. So, the only way for La Russa to properly judge his decision-making process, is to make decisions he truly believes, and evaluate afterwards.

“The reality is, don’t worry about covering your butt,” La Russa said. “Don’t worry about it, because you can’t. It actually frees you to do what you think is right.”

Again, the move to give Turner a pass in that scenario is what La Russa believed, and still believes, was right. If a righty had been on the mound, or if Bennett Sousa hadn’t thrown the wild pitch that allowed Freddie Freeman to move from first to second, then the Sox would’ve challenged Turner. But the way things played out, La Russa didn’t hesitate to put Turner on base.

“I worry about walking in later thinking ‘Did I follow, trust my gut and more importantly is there something I missed in the decision?’ And that one there, man…as soon as the guy went to second, I went bang (holds up four fingers).

“I’m always fascinated, and that’s part of the reason I’m still here, I really embrace the excitement of making those decisions. If it don’t go right, I have enough scabs. I can take it.”

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