Yermin Mercedes was chastised by the Hall of Fame old-school dugout leader before the game started for hitting a home run in the ninth inning on a 3-0 count in Monday’s blowout 16-4 victory against Minnesota.
Twins pitcher Tyler Duffey and manager Rocco Baldelli were ejected from Tuesday’s game in the seventh inning for throwing behind Mercedes’ legs in a clear retaliatory pitch from the home run the night before. The White Sox were leading but ended up losing to the Twins, 5-4.
La Russa defended Duffey and the Twins for throwing at his own player.
“It wasn’t obvious to me. The guy threw a sinker. It didn’t look good. So, I wasn’t that suspicious. I’m suspicious if somebody throws at somebody’s head. Then I’m suspicious. I don’t have a problem with how the Twins handled that,” he said.
La Russa, 76, was unhappy with Mercedes contributing to his team’s lead in Monday night’s game.
He told reporters Tuesday afternoon it was a mistake for Mercedes to swing at the pitch.
“That’s just sportsmanship, respect for the game, respect for your opponent,” La Russa said. “He made a mistake, so there will be a consequence that he has to endure here within our family. But it won’t happen again because (third base coach Joe McEwing) will be on the lookout and I will be too, and we’ll go running in front of the pitcher if we have to.”
Mercedes had been on a bit of a hot streak since the season started.
“I’m going to play like that. I’m Yermin. I can’t be another person because if I’m changing, everything is going to (be) changing,” he said. “Everything was good. Some of my teammates just talked with me. Just be relaxed, everything was good, everything was good, just do you. We’re good.”
Mercedes found support from teammate Tim Anderson and reigning NL Cy Young award-winner Trevor Bauer over the whole ordeal.
Chicago sits on top of the AL Central division with a 25-16 record. The Twins are last with a 14-26 record.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.