Does the same apply to managers if players can lose their starting positions due to injury? The Chicago White Sox could find themselves facing that very question if they play well enough to be in a position to win the American League Central division under interim manager Miguel Cairo.
Manager Tony La Russa has been out since last Tuesday when he left Guaranteed Rate Field with an undisclosed medical issue just prior to the White Sox series opener with the Kansas City Royals.
The White Sox announced on Wednesday that La Russa would be out indefinitely but did not elaborate on the cause of his ailment.
Cairo was handed the reigns of the team and although they lost the first game against the Royals, the White Sox responded by winning four in a row heading into Sundnay’s matchup with the Twins.
Perhaps as important as the wins are, the fire the team seems to be showing which has been lacking for most of the season. That passion was evidence on Friday against Minnesota when the benches cleared in the ninth inning after Andrew Vaughn was hit in the left shoulder on a pitch from Twins reliever Jorge Lopez.
As the teams middled about near the pitcher’s mound, things heated up between Cairo and Twins manager Rocco Baldelli as the two started exchanging words. Once the dust settled, Cairo was ejected for arguing with the umpires about why both teams were issued warnings.
It might be time for Miguel Cairo to be the full-time head coach of the White Sox.
The team has shown some fire and played well under Cairo and should they continue to do that, it could make for an interesting decision on what to do with La Russa when or if he returns to the team.
Should Cairo get this team to start playing to its potential, it might be the type of audition that could lead to his taking over the team next year if the ballclub opts to replace La Russa who still has a year left on his contract.
It is very early to make a call on Cairo’s future but he is in the position of taking what has been a significantly underachieving team and getting them to play better. They have put themselves back in the playoff hunt.
However, if Cairo is looking to make a name for himself as a guy who could take over a team, he may want to avoid making a decision as he did on Friday by having pitcher Joe Kelly start in place of the injured Michael Kopech.
Kelly has had a rough go of things this season coming out of the bullpen and his starting the game nearly backfired on Cairo as Kelly lasted only one inning, giving up two runs on two hits.
Still, the White Sox came back to win the game and pick up ground on first-place Cleveland who lost to Seattle.
So, if the team plays better than it has and finds itself on the brink of the playoffs, would it be best to let Cairo see things through to the end?
Chances are that if La Russa is cleared to return, he will be back in the dugout. In all likelihood, Cairo is just keeping the seat warm until La Russa makes his way back.
Still, it is something to consider should the White Sox do a 180-degree turn from the team that has hovered around the .500 mark since the All-Star Game last season.
If it is all about doing what’s best for the team, and a new voice on the bench is helping the team look like the contender most thought it was to start the season, then why not stick with it to see where it goes?
The old adage of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” could be a good one to use for this team if its fortunes change for the better. Maybe La Russa decides to take a step back once he returns and lets Cairo do the managing while he stays in the background.
Again, chances are it’s La Russa’s team upon his return, but if things look better under new leadership, wouldn’t it be interesting to see what could come from it?