Red Sox hire La Russa to support baseball operations
BOSTON — Tony La Russa and Dave Dombrowski have been talking about working together again since meeting more than three decades ago.
That reunion will finally happen with a Boston Red Sox franchise that continues to shake things up in its pursuit of another World Series championship.
The Red Sox hired La Russa on Thursday to serve as a vice president and special assistant on its baseball operations staff. He will work for Dombrowski, the team’s president of baseball operations, in player development and consultation with the major and minor league staffs.
The 73-year-old La Russa served in a similar capacity with the Arizona Diamondbacks the past four seasons.
“It was an opportunity that I was excited about,” La Russa said. “Everything you do professionally, if somehow there’s a personal connection, I think it adds something to the opportunity. Dave and I go way back.”
La Russa was a first-time manager and Dombrowski an energetic young executive with the Chicago White Sox when their careers first crossed paths in mid-1980s.
“He had more guts than brains is what I remember,” said La Russa, joking about meeting a 23-year-old Dombrowski in his second year as assistant director of the farm system for Chicago.
It’s a fearless approach that La Russa believes has served Dombrowski well in his career since they left Chicago together in 1986. La Russa also thinks Boston’s front office chief has an appreciation for his 50-plus years of professional baseball knowledge.
“We’ve talked every year for years, many times about the responsibilities we’ve both had and the ups and downs. When we’ve had questions, we’d always trust each other,” La Russa said. “So it’s a very familiar position.”
Dombrowski said adding someone with La Russa’s knowledge is a natural fit for the change in direction the Red Sox made with the dismissal of John Farrell as manager last month .
“For me it’s a situation where he’s a great resource for many individuals,” Dombrowski said. “I can’t think of anybody else that’s around in today’s world that has more knowledge than that.”
One of the other big draws to the position for La Russa, himself the owner of three World Series rings (two with the Cardinals), was the opportunity to work alongside a first-time manager in incoming Red Sox skipper Alex Cora.
La Russa ranks third among major league managers in wins, compiling a 2,728-2,365 record in 33 seasons with the Chicago White Sox, Oakland and St. Louis. He was elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame in 2014.
While La Russa said he will certainly be around to be a resource for Cora in whatever capacity, he sees his new job as helping without getting in the way.
That extends to his interactions with managers, coaches and players in the farm system and those at the major league level.
“I think you just stay out of the way, and you contribute when you’re asked,” La Russa said.
NOTES: The Red Sox also announced several new additions to Cora’a coaching staff. Former Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke will serve as Cora’s bench coach. Tom Goodwin will be Boston’s first base coach and outfield instructor. Carlos Febles will instruct the infield and be the third base coach, and Dana LeVangie will return to the major league staff as bullpen coach and assist in advance scouting. Cora is in the process of hiring new pitching and hitting coaches. … Boston exercised a $12.5 million option on left-hander Chris Sale and a $13 million option on closer Craig Kimbrel. Each deal called for a $1 million buyout if the option had been declined.